There been diplomatic spats between Nairobi and Mogadishu before, as the ones in power have either favoured the relations or felt used. The elites in both Republic’s have usually earned coins on the relations. As the cross country trade have been swell and border districts have moved goods. Therefore, the recent escalation is worrying.
Last month it was already getting ugly, when the Kenyan Ambassador went back to Nairobi. After the Somalian government claimed the Kenyan government was interfering in their elections. President Faramaajo have been playing into this narrative and used it ahead of the up-coming elections. Since he gotten friendly with Addis Ababa. He needs a new enemy and currently that Nairobi.
They have already International Court battle over the ownership over certain sea and possible “territory” to drill oil outside their borders. That is a case that is pending and still not settled in the courts. It has been a prolonged dispute. This has however not been the issue for the current spat.
Which is based on the election in Somalia. As the President trying to show his power and his strength ahead of that. That Somalia is cutting its ties. Is now happening because the Kenyan counterparts wanted to show their force as well. They went and had a two day talks with the President of Somaliland Muse Bihi in Nairobi. Also opened up an Consulate for Somaliland in Nairobi and a Kenyan one in Haregeisa. This is in stark contrast to the views of Mogadishu. As the semi-autonomous state and declared independence on the 18th May 1991. Which haven’t been recognized by all states and multi-national organizations. As the Federal Government in Somalia (FGS) will feel these actions made is a betrayal of their sovereign interests. However, that can also be disputed and if they even have a say in Somaliland at all…
This is why this dispute between Mogadishu and Nairobi is happening. Nairobi answered to the attacks and the actions made by Mogadishu. That is why the Kenyan went and made diplomatic efforts with Hargeisa. Just to prove a point. While the Somali elite in Mogadishu and in Nairobi knows it needs Kenyan support. Their army is within their borders. The Kenyan elite is shielding and having a Somali elite in Nairobi. That is why even some Presidential Candidates are campaigning there to get the votes from important figures there. Therefore, this is a futile enterprise.
It is not like the Kenyan will back down now. The FGS in Mogadishu have even ordered for their diplomats to return home within a few days. This means they are clearly shutting down all ordinary means of communication. A neighbour nation who has worked with and is participating in the battle against Al-Shabaab and also harbour the biggest amount of Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp. Therefore, the Kenyan government can make life much worse for Farmaajo, than what he can do to the ones in Nairobi.
This can only be seen as a stunt ahead of the elections. United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) should react to all of this and also IGAD. The AMISOM mission can also loose out on this. As the Kenyan are mandated and are participating in that. So, if this further escalates. The Mogadishu based politicians are playing with fire. While amping up their “sovereign” interests, which is only losing out and weakening themselves. Not like Mogadishu have some friends to call and get things fixed. Even the US is moving their soldiers from Somalia in 2021. They don’t need more weakness in their battle against the Al-Shabaab.
Farmaajo is trying to live up to the hype and show some resilience. In a manner to buy to populist believes ahead of the polls. He needs an enemy and especially an outside one. That is why Kenya is a fitting one. What he maybe didn’t think was that they would invite and entertain Bihi in Nairobi. That must have hurt his pride and therefore, ended in the late night ceasing of ties. This is the reality of it all.
Somaliland is the pawn here. The semi-autonomous state and non-recognized state, which is trying to get vouched for. Right now the importance of Kenya is huge. Especially, that Raila Odinga is speaking of recognition of it. That would spark fury in Mogadishu. This is why the separatists are vocal about it and celebrating the recent events. While Farmaajo should feel shooked. He played high, but didn’t stack his card correctly.
Right now it’s all in the hands of Farmaajo. The “Cheese” have to act now. This will have repercussions and we can wonder how he will play this one out. His the one that gone an election coming up and he got all to loose here. Somaliland and Bihi got what he wanted. Kenya have shown their moves and can easily manoeuvrer from here. It is the leadership of Mogadishu that is loosing out. Peace.
The latest incidents on the Kenya-Somalia border and the recent build-up of security forces in the Gedo region have created instability and resulted in casualties and large-scale displacement of civilians. This has had a severe humanitarian impact notably on vulnerable women and children. The fighting in Galmudug at the end of February has also fuelled tensions. Overall, these situations are extremely serious. Furthermore, they divert assets and attention away from military operations against al-Shabaab in Lower and Middle Shabelle and jeopardize hard won stability in Somalia. They are also detrimental to Somalia’s relationships with its neighbours and partners. Urgent steps must be taken to de-escalate.
Full cooperation is needed between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States as well as amongst regional partners. Lasting solutions must be found to safeguard the ongoing efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, to build-up integrated Somali security forces and to create a secure and enabling environment for state building and development.
All parties involved should do everything necessary to reduce tensions, exercise restraint, respect the integrity of sovereign borders and seek peaceful resolution of differences between one another.
The European Union underlines the importance of stability and good cooperation among Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in their common border area where they have shared interests. The engagement and outreach from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, (IGAD) is welcomed in this regard, as well as the recent communication between the Presidents of Somalia and Kenya on 5 March. An anticipated summit between the heads of state and government of Somalia and its neighbours is urgent. It should consider incorporating steps to verify and monitor the situation on the ground as a confidence building measure.
The European Union has always been a strong supporter of Somali state building, notably in the economic and security areas. Recently this commitment was translated into a firm support to Somalia’s debt relief process. The current military situation also calls for an urgent discussion on the state of implementation of agreed joint priorities in the political and security sphere.
This discussion is an important element to continue to strengthen the effective cooperation between Somalia and its international partners in the spirit of mutual accountability and partnership.