What you need to know:
- In its current state, Farmaajo’s rogue diplomacy and lone-wolf approach to the region can only be harmful to Somalia’s interests. His shambolic diplomatic stance is deeply embarrassing to Somalia’s rightly proud people.
By now, most stakeholders have read the Report of the Fact Finding Mission of the regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), on the Kenya-Somalia diplomatic stand-off. A team of professionals was dispatched to Kenya and Somalia by President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti as mandated by the 38th Extra-ordinary Assembly of Igad Heads of State and Government held on December 20, 2020.
The mission visited Kenya and Somalia—including their common border area—to verify facts on the ground, establish the truth and clear the air in the wake of Somalia’s allegations that Kenya was interfering in its internal affairs and violating its sovereignty.
Prior to the Igad summit, and based on these claims, President Abdullahi Farmaajo’s government arbitrarily severed diplomatic ties with Kenya on November 20, 2020. This was despite the presence of about 300,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and thousands others sheltering in the country’s urban areas as workers, students, business people and returnees from abroad.
The mandate, professional integrity and thoroughness of Igad’s Fact Finding Mission is hardly in doubt.
After its visit to Kenya and Somalia and holding extensive consultations with the two neighbors on January 9-13, 2021, the mission’s report issued the resounding verdict that Villa Somalia and Farmaajo’s accusations against Kenya were unfounded.
Individually and collectively, members of the Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC), comprising of 15 aspirants seeking to succeed Farmaajo, joined hands with other opposition groups, civil society and the Somali public in censuring him for debasing Somalia’s diplomacy, picking unnecessary fights with neighbors and plunging the country into a foreign policy disaster.
Farmaajo is sacrificing Somalia’s traditional allies, mainly Djibouti and Kenya, at the altar of his self-aggrandisement and selfish efforts to stay in power beyond his constitutional mandate. Farmaajo, it must be recalled, ended his constitutional four-year term on February 8.
He is unwittingly falling prey to the geopolitical interest of his regional allies, thus unforgivably putting Somalia’s unity, security and national interests at dire risk. He is wasting Somalia’s meagre resources and diverting it from diplomatic forums and alliances that for the last thirty years have worked for peace, security and reconstruction agenda. He is, instead, wasting time in fictitious military alliances masquerading as economic groups such as the Horn of Africa Cooperation (HOC), a new club of despots.
Sadly, at no other time than during the last Igad extraordinary meeting in Djibouti was Somalia duped into geopolitical interests of its new regional allies. Farmajo’s crybaby antics against Kenya may have cleverly been used by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to divert attention of Igad from the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia and to expunge it from Igad’s agenda.
Farmaajo stands accused of betraying the people of Ethiopia in their hour of need by using Kenya as a scapegoat to divert attention from the killings in Ethiopia, the real reason the Igad meeting was convened (and the issues of Covid-19).
Even Somalia’s own complaint did not merit to be on the main agenda of Igad, however, and leaders only discussed it as a sidelines closed-door issue.
Yet the Igad report, a result of President Guelleh’s personal initiative to help friendly neighbours, has laid bare Farmaajo’s extreme diplomatic naivety. Igad’s superior diplomacy has turned the tables against him and forced him to the drawing board. Shamefully, he need to reconstruct his diplomacy—but it might be too late.
In his desire to cling on to power at all costs, Farmaajo has trampled over Somalia’s aspirations for peace and democracy and the human rights of its people and leaders. This includes the arbitrary arrest of former Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow, who reformed to seek political office in South West but whose bid was cut short in mafia-style detention, helped by Ethiopian troops not part of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
A report by the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia indicted Farmaajo for getting help from Abiy, whose soldiers helped him take the presidency in Somalia’s Southwest regional state by force, and beating down a protest. The election went on in spite of complaints of rigging.
There are more examples of using foreign entities to commit illegal activities by Farmaajo. He has to come clean on the charges of deploying hundreds of new recruits to Eritrea for a controversial training, and the suspected deployment to Tigray in Ethiopia, without Parliament’s approval.
There are credible reports of Somali youth who have either missing or who have met underserved deaths in lonely battle fields, leaving parents and relatives in tears and grief.
In its current state, Farmaajo’s rogue diplomacy and lone-wolf approach to the region can only be harmful to Somalia’s interests. His shambolic diplomatic stance is deeply embarrassing to Somalia’s rightly proud people.
Behind Farmaajo’s aggressive diplomatic posturing lies a man with a soft underbelly, especially after reports emerged of him seeking back-channel reengagements with countries he had sidelined during his term, including the UAE.
And with the damning release of the Djibouti-led Igad fact-finding mission, the chickens have come home to roost. Farmaajo will mostly likely be remembered for flushing Somalia’s diplomacy down the sewer.