$50m pledges withheld, Somalia should severe ties with Qatar, KSA tells Somalia

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Saudi Arabia’s leverage, both politically and financially for Somalia, is significant, with Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has paid his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia two weeks after he was elected on February 8.

Saudi Arabia’s leverage, both politically and financially for Somalia, is significant, with Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has paid his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia two weeks after he was elected on February 8.

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Saudi Arabia said it would hold a $50 million it made to Somalia in exchange for severing ties with Iran until Somalia also cuts ties with Qatar and join the Saudi-led coalition that have severed diplomatic ties and cut off transport links with Qatar in an extraordinary attempt to isolate the Gulf state.

Somali government which resisted initial requests by Saudi Arabia and UAE to cut ties with Qatar has called for dialogue in ending the crisis, and sent a ministerial-level to Saudi Arabia which warned Somalia to ‘either’ cut ties with Qatar or lose a $50 million pledge made by Saudi Arabia.

“Their message was clear: You are either with us or with Qatar.” said a Somali diplomat who attended meeting with Saudi officials in Riyadh this week on condition of anonymity.

Saudi Arabia’s leverage, both politically and financially for Somalia, is significant, with Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has paid his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia two weeks after he was elected on February 8.

A growing number of Arab nations have cut ties with Qatar, in what they pointed to Doha’s alleged terrorism ties and their own national security.

“This may force Somalia to change its political tone, but still depends on Qatar’s approach in showing Somalia that it can be a more reliable partner.” said Jacob Moses, a Nairobi-based horn of Africa expert.

More than ten countries, mostly in the Middle East cut ties with Qatar, claiming that its regional policies fuel extremism and terrorism.

However, Somalia’s resistance towards pressure to wade into regional conflicts in the Arab world has earned it a positive credit among its citizens who repeatedly urged their government to remain ‘neutral’.

In addition, Somalia has a close economic and strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is leading the calls for the blockade and severing of ties, something that may confuse its current political standing.

Despite Qatar’s political influence in Somalia, Saudi Arabia also remains a major economic source for the impoverished horn of Africa nation. Somalia also depends the Saudi kingdom for its livestock exports.

Beyond livestock, the ties between Somalia and Saudi Arabia are also increasingly political, reflected in the Somali government’s approval in early last year of the use of its airspace and territorial waters for Saudi-led strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The thriving livestock industry supports the country’s economic recovery following more than two decades of war that left the country’s economic infrastructure fractured.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. What a disaster? That why Somalia should not take aid. There is no such thing as aid for the sake of aid. There are always political strings attached and no one cares what the consequences of it are for the poor nations forced to conform.

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