Foreign Hands In Somali Politics

Hours after Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was suspended from his duties for alleged corruption and tampering with an ongoing investigation, the United States and the United Kingdom, followed by their Europeans allies, lined up to support the Prime Minister and display their contempt for the president’s action.

An uncontrolled prime minister

Prime Minister Roble, whom the public suspected of delaying the elections to enrich himself and place his friends in office, returned with confrontational and arbitrary behavior after a visit to Djibouti where he met President Ismail Omar and reportedly had a meeting with CIA agents.

On the night of December 26, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo relieved the Prime Minister of his electoral task which he failed to carry out since November 2020. Then the next day, he was suspended for a matter of embezzlement of public lands which has poisoned political discourse in Mogadishu since last week.

By taking the path of firmness, the Somali president has set Western countries, American and British in the lead, against him. These countries had forced him to relinquish some of his powers to the prime minister in April 2021 after they encouraged opposition militias to create a chaotic situation in the Somali capital.

West working on a regime change

In flagrant violation of Somali sovereign, the United Kingdom opened the way by swiftly supporting the suspended Prime Minister. UK representative in Somalia, Kate Foster, continuously tweeted statements calling on “Somali leaders” to meet the Mr. Roble and ignore President Farmajo’s recent directives.

While a statement by the UK Minister for Africa backed Mr. Roble as if nothing had happened the day before, the US Bureau for African Affairs said in a tweet that the US supports Prime Minister Mohamed Roble and refuses to admit his suspension. The US Department has also warned the Somali president of consequences if he obstructs the prime minister’s activities.

Ilhan Omar, the controversial Somali congresswoman, now seating on the same Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa that issued the warning, using her personal account, tweeted that President Farmajo must “step aside” considering him as the one who is obstructing the elections.

This hostile stance was followed by US-led diplomatic commotion, starting with Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken consulting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Farmajo’s nemesis, on Somali affairs and Molly Phee, Blinken’s assistant, conversing directly with the suspended prime minister on the next step.

The false hopes of the disillusioned opposition

There are no “two parties” facing each other or movement of troops that may escalate the political situation but according to the avalanche of American and European statements, and fake news oozing from their news agencies, Somalia would be on the brink of a civil war.

Aside from the weak and divided opposition circles reinvigorated by the US paternalistic statement, Mogadishu is as calm as the days before and the prime minister is still suspended.

Much to their dismay, however, the United States no longer has an appetite for adventures abroad, and particularly in Somalia where Black Hawk Down-like scenarios are still possible.

Instead, they want to ignite some kind of violence that will prompt the UN Security Council to mandate the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops which current mandate is expiring to take control of security in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu is under control

Despite the political crisis, the violence, so far confined to social media, is likely to erupt if the security forces are confronted with some opposition militias, who have offered to help the prime minister tilt the balance of power in its favor.

An offer that risks costing him more than a suspension because the whole national security system is on high alert and will not allow events like the last April militias violence to happen again.

Although the reason for this suspension relates to the corruption investigation, it should be noted that relations between President Farmajo and his Prime Minister have not always been good in recent times.

This is explained by the worsening of the political discourse of which the elections are the main cause and foreign interference in Somalia. If the foreign factor is removed, things will likely settle down again and the progress on the elections will be palpable.

AbdiQani Badar

AbdiQani Badar is a historian, political commentator and avid writer. He has written extensively on Somali issues and historical events.