After weeks of no official statement and a president unwilling to address the great anguish felt by the Somali nation over the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, Prime Minister Hamze Abdi Barre lashed out at Israel, calling it a terrorist organization while backing Hamas in its liberation struggle.
In a conference held in Mogadishu earlier this month, an visibly exasperated Hamze, leaving diplomatic language aside, decried the horrendous treatment of the Palestinian people, the barbaric mass killing and the blatant genocidal intent of the Zionist regime.
“In every 15 min 1 Palestinian child is killed”, he said, adding that Israelis “target ambulances rushing to pick up the wounded with guided bombs. Doctors are killed, hospitals are bombed, electricity and water are cut off and not even a bag of food can reach them. No one can bring [Palestinians] a single bottle of water.”
Rejecting Western characterization of Hamas
The Somali leader had also lambasted Western leaders for arming and shielding the Zionist regime and held them responsible for the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
“These countries, especially their leaders, are happy with and lining up to assist in the massacre of innocent civilians, including children, women, the elderly and the destitute, using the most destructive bombs, minus the nuclear bomb, to annihilate them, in full view of the whole world.”
PM Hamze also noted the double standard and the dehumanizing twist in the terminology western media apply when reporting on occupied Palestine. He said “they consider the evil Zionist invaders who settled in their homes and oppressed them for 75 years as poor victims attacked and killed by terrorists.”
Thus, he stated his disagreement with the Western characterization of Hamas, emphasizing that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization. It is a liberation organization that strives to free its country from [Israeli] occupation.”
Hamze is not the first world leader to publicly express irritation with this American and European standpoint, likely dictated by the Zionists lobby there. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has had similar views on Israel, its supporters and Hamas.
However, even though Hamze and Erdogan held strong religious beliefs as Hamas and are sensitive to local sentiment about the world inaction to stop the Palestinian genocide, Somalia does not have the same weight as Turkey and cannot resist Western interference in its foreign policy.
Israel and Al-Shabab similarity
In fact, the Somali prime minister made his remarks at a conference of traditionalist clerics to seek their cooperation against the violent extremism of Al-Shabab which is wreaking havoc in the southern regions.
Hamze used this gathering held just days after the commemoration of the 2017 Soobe attack to compare Israel to a terrorist organization like Al-Shabab.. “Our enemies are the same”, he said, “[Al-Shabab] and Zionists are similar. They are one and the same in their use of mass murder.”
“What [the Zionists] are doing in Gaza and what [Al-Shabab] did in Soobe are identical and they plan from from the same place. They are sent and take their orders from the same place. There is no doubt of their satanic origin”, he added.
Hamze alluded to the fact that Al-Shabab, which has terrorized Somalia for 16 years, only .appeared after the 2006 US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. A year later, this initial foreign occupation was reinforced by the Western-funded 22,000-strong African troops which have established a now permanent presence in Somalia.
In addition, most Somalis believe that the growing presence of Western troops, which include more than 1,000 elite American and European troops and unspecified number of security firms’ agents, have only strengthened the militant group against whom they say they are fighting.
Somali government pressured into Israel camp
In his speech, Hamze appeared exasperated by Western pressure on his government to side with the Zionist camp and label Hamas a terrorist organization. It is telling and expected that Somalia, where almost the entire population supports the Palestinian resistance, is being bullied by the Americans, British and other Europeans who ousted the previous president and installed a man under their control.
Indeed, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who has secretly visited Tel Aviv twice since May 2022 and is expected to soon commit Somalia to the Abraham Accords, has not yet taken a clear position on Israel’s crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories.
It should be added that this president, very unpopular in Somalia for his corruption and his mismanagement of the country’s affairs, does not want to undermine his position by comments that may displease his nation or upset American, British and Arab friends of Israel who supported him get the presidential seat.
It should also be added that the president and his prime minister are both from the Islah religious movement, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even before the Hamas attack, the Somali president was under pressure from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to part ways with his long time friend and loyal Prime Minister as well as other Islah figures in his administration.
PM Hamze, who was widely considered as an awkward speaker and a weak prime minister too docile to confront the president over his repeated constitutional violations, had surprised many with his speech. Reportedly the president, who was having a surgery in Dubai when Hamze berated Israel and its Western backers, initially said he knew the PM’s statement beforehand and supported him.
However, during his recent visits to UAE and Saudi Arabia, President Mohamud reportedly came under pressure from Emirati and Saudi leaders to either sack his prime minister or publicly disavow his statement.
Kowtowing to Israel’s backers
President Mohamud preferred to go easy on his prime minister but, in his recent interview with Arab News, he unilaterally recognized Israel as a legitimate state in a departure from long-standing Somali policy towards Palestine.
His stance that demands from both Zionists and Palestinians are legitimate only show he is at odds with the Somali society. However, him cowing to pressure confirms his corruption and his plan to extend his term as these countries supporting Israel are also kingmakers in Somalia.
This time around, he has chosen that path to save himself as his circle of friends in Somalia are increasingly shrinking. A possible motion of no confidence against the prime minister, as some parliamentarians are considering, will prove difficult to pass at this stage since Hamze’s stance in favor of the Palestinians has won him supporters within Parliament.
By openly supporting the Palestinian resistance and criticizing Israel’s Western allies, Hamze knew that he risked the wrath of his boss sponsors, as he himself implies in his speech when he said he would not yield to pressure even if that means losing his post. Many local commentators believe that the president wanted Hamze to let bare his candor so the nation gives his administration a thumb up.
In a word, Prime Minister Hamze’s sincere approach to the plight of the Palestinians was timely as many Somali politicians are calling to join the Palestinian resistance to liberate Islam’s third holiest site from Zionist occupation. However, despite his strong words, he believes in the discredited two-state solution and seeks to refocus the Somali public’s attention on our own demons.