The Arab crisis is driving policy in Mogadishu

Tensions between GCC countries and Qatar have resulted in upheavals in Somalia.

The Arab crisis is driving policy in Mogadishu

Gulf crisisTensions between members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Qatar against the backdrop of war in Yemen have resulted in upheaval at the key ministries of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo. On 3 January, his prime minister Hassan Ali Khayre dismissed the foreign minister Yusuf Garaad Omar, the interior minister Abdi Farah Said and the trade minister Khadra Ahmed Duale, replacing them with, respectively, Somalia’s ambassador to the United States Ahmed Isse Awad, the telecoms magnate Mohamed Abdi Sabriye, and the former minister of information Mohamed Hayir Mareeye. According to our information, the ministers were sacked following disputes within their clan. Abdi Farah Said is from the same clan as opposition leader Abdirahman Abdishakur, who was recently arrested after a police raid on his home which resulted in six deaths.

Abdirahman Abdishkur stands accused of having received money from the United Arab Emirates to secure support among MPs for the removal of President Farmajo. Tensions are at breaking point after the presidential chief of staff Fahad Yasin Tahir, a former member of the Wahhabi movement Al-Ittihad al-Islami who is close to Qatar, held talks in Istanbul to discuss a power-sharing arrangement with Abdikarim Hussein Guled, who is part of the parliamentary group led by the former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and also a member of the Ed-Dam Al-Jadid (‘new blood’) group. These MPs are preparing a motion of no-confidence in Hassan Ali Khayre with a view to replacing him. The debate is currently on hold, but the Emirates are pushing for the fall of Farmajo’s government, which they accuse of collusion with Qatar despite its declarations of neutrality.

Source: ION, January 19, 2018
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Hargeisa and Mogadishu choose their sides in Qatar crisis

While Somaliland has taken Saudi Arabia’s side, Somalia has adopted a neutral position in the conflict pitting Qatar against the Gulf Countries. And in doing so each of them struck hard bargains.

On June 7 Somalia’s foreign minister, Yusuf Garaad Omar, publicly deplored that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates had broken off diplomatic ties with Qatar. Three days later his Somaliland counterpart, Saad Ali Shire, took sides in the crisis by lining up behind Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Qatar.

Somaliland’s choice took shape on June 6 during talks between Emirati representatives and Bashe Awil Omar, Somaliland’s envoy to Dubai and son-in-law of Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud, a k a Silanyo. Taking the opposite tack to Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, Silanyo hopes to see Saudi Arabia return to his country and have the UAE back his call for international recognition of Somaliland. In adopting that stand, Silanyo also sent a signal to Turkish president Recep Tayip Erdogan, who is close to Doha. Somaliland reproaches Turkey with favoring Somalia in the mediation effort Ankara has undertaken between Hargeisa and Mogadishu. Indeed, Somaliland hopes a new mediator will be named. According to our sources, Qatar contacted Musa Bihi Abdi, presidential candidate and leader of the ruling party in Hargeisa, Kulmiye, on June 9 and tried in vain to get him to adopt a neutral position. That appeal to take sides was voiced again until June 13 in the Somaliland capital by Qatari ambassador Abdulaziz Sultan Jassim al Umaihi in a series of secret meetings with prominent figures in Kulmiye.

A former minister on the president’s staff and now a member of the Wadani opposition party, Hersi Ali Haji Hassan and his leader, the speaker in parliament Abdirahman Mohamed Abdilahi, a k a Cirro, flew to Riyadh to ask for additional financial assistance from Saudi Arabia in return for the Somaliland government’s decision in favor of Riyadh in the Qatari crisis. On the evening of June 13, Silanyo and his circle decided to shortly send a raft of ministers to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to outline Somaliland’s position. As for Somalia, Farmajo has already seen to it that Qatar and Turkey put up money to reward Hargeisa for remaining neutral in the Gulf country showdown.

Source: ION, June 23, 2017
© Copyrights 2017 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Turkey and Qatar in play as Farmajo’s wild cards

Turkey has rushed to Qatar’s aid in the crisis pitting Doha against the Gulf monarchies by dispatching troops. But Recep Tayip Erdogan has also confirmed a decision to send 300 soldiers to Mogadishu in August to man a Turkish base currently being built (ION nº1449) and train the Somali National Army (SNA).

The Turkish president and his Somali counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo will both inaugurate the base that can house 3,000 men. With Turkey also offering strategic assistance Farmajo realizes he has Ankara’s blessings in throwing Somalia’s lot in with Qatar.

During his trip to Doha on May 25 he asked Qatar’s leader, Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, for cash to pay SNA’s troops. He also pointed to the ongoing threat from the Al Shabaab Islamist movement (ION nº1451), saying it has “shown no sign of weakening”.

Al Thani reportedly gave him $6 million meet the most urgent needs but insisted Farmajo produce a detailed list of his government’s economic and social priorities. When the meeting wound up, the Qatari and Somali foreign ministers, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al Thani and Yusuf Garaad Omar, praised Qatar’s strategic role in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. But many are wondering whether Saudi Arabia’s decision on June 5 to cut ties with Doha will curb Qatar’s capacity to wield influence in Africa.

Source: ION, June 09, 2017
© Copyrights 2017 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Presidential race prompts costly foreign meddling

With Dec. 28 set by Somalia’s main political leaders as the date for the presidential election, a multi-million dollar war of influence has been set in motion between Gulf states, Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkey, who all want to persuade the electorate – members of parliament in this poll – to back their favoured candidate. Until recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) supported Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. But Ethiopian authorities, at a secret meeting in Addis Ababa in December, convinced the UAE to back the re-election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. The UAE has imposed two conditions: a UAE oil company should be awarded an exploration license for the disputed maritime zone between Somalia and Kenya, and Sharmarke should retain his position as prime minister. The UAE recently sent a private jet so that Sharmake could take up an invitation to visit the emirates.

Meanwhile, Turkey has been generous in its aid to Mohamoud, who, it is worth noting has opened doors to Ankara and has promised President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he would grant exploration licenses to Turkiye Petrolleri AO (TPAO). For its part, Saudi Arabia, which had remained somewhat neutral, is now thought to have followed Turkey’s footsteps. Also in play are Qatar and Egypt, both of which have contributed to the campaign of Transitional Federal government former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo.

Source: ION, December 23, 2016
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Why the president wants to delay elections

Hassan Sheikh

Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, 2013.

There is still a considerable amount of conclusion about the electoral calendar in Somalia. While the media announced in late September that the presidential election would be held on 30 November and the parliamentary elections on 23 November, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is still actively looking for a way of delaying them. So much so that the neither the government nor the press now dares to communicate an election calendar. Reportedly, the president’s campaign team advised him to delay the elections so that the other candidates – including the current Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke – use up their financial resources and no longer worry him. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud can count on the financial support of Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Source: ION, October 14, 2016
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aynte

The new leader of the assembly of Muslim clerics of Somalia (Majma Ulimadda Islaamka ee Soomaaliya), a Shafi’i Islamic organisation that favours the instigation of Sharia law, is a partisan of former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He is Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aynte (Hawiye/Murosade), replacing Sheikh Ahmed Abdi Diisow, who died in September 2012 after being the organisation’s chairman since 2001. Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aynte has been a member of the council for the application of Sharia Law, created at the start of the century to unite the Islamic courts in Mogadishu and chaired at the time by Sheikh Ali Dheere. After that, he was a member of the central committee of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which took over from the Council for the application of Sharia in 2004 and which was still in power at the time in Mogadishu.

In 2007, he became a member of the central committee of the Alliancefor the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), then at the start of 2009, an MP in the Federal Transition Parliament, under the terms of the Djibouti agreement which attributed parliamentary seats to the ARS. Last year, Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aynte supported the campaign of his close friend, former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. However, Sheikh Sharif lost the election, costing Ali Aynte his seat in parliament. Furthermore, Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aynte is the father of AbdirahmanAynte, the director of the Somalian think tank Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), launched in Mogadishu in January 2013 with aid from Qatar (ION 1349).

Source: ION, March 29, 2013
© Copyrights 2013 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Who are the sponsors of the first think tank in Somalia?

HIPS think tankThe Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), the first think tank in Mogadishu which was launched on 15 January, states it is an independent nonpartisan research centre. However, a number of the institute’s sponsors and officials have links with the Islamic group Ahlu Sheikh which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Moreover, one of Ahlu Sheikh’s eminent members is the former President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The director of HIPS, Abdi Aynte, a former journalist with the BBC, Voice of America and Al Jazeera English, is the son of one Sheikh Sarif’s political allies and a partisan of Ahlu Sheikh. The deputy director of HIPS, Abdirashid Khalif Hashi, is a former minister under Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, the former Prime Minister of the TFG affiliated to Ahlu Sheikh. Fahad Yasin Haji Dahir, who is close to the current minister Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir and a former Al Jazeera journalist, is another key figure in the HIPS.

According to a source in Somalia, he played a role in channelling funds from Qatar to finance the election campaign last year of the current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Qatar could therefore also contribute to HIPS’s funding. HIPS’s other sponsors are Somalian businessmen, with trading links with Sheikh Sharif and with Turkey. Moreover, the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, Cemalettin Kani Torun, was present at the launch of HIPS in Mogadishu. This think tank also has an international aspect, as it includes a number of foreign “stars”, such as BBC journalist Mary Harper, Laura Hammond, senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and Jason Mosley, Associate Fellow of the UK think tank Chatham House.

Source: ION, February 01, 2013
© Copyrights 2013 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved


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