UAE is trying hard to influence the elections in Somalia

UAE uses ‘humanitarian diplomacy’ to mend fences with Somalia

Diplomatic relations between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been at their lowest point since 2018, when Somalia accused the small Gulf country of interfering in its internal affairs and instigating chaos. According to Anadolu Agency reported.

In 2018, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency seized three suitcases at Mogadishu’s international airport containing over $9 million from a Boeing 737/700 operated by the UAE’s Royal Jet.

Since then, the money has been under the watch of Villa Somalia, the presidential palace.

At the time the money was confiscated, the Horn of Africa country was in the midst of major political tensions, with the government accusing the UAE of funding the opposition.

Somalia said the funds had entered the country “illegally” and were therefore confiscated. The UAE immediately retaliated, announcing the closure of a military training facility and a hospital in Mogadishu that was offering locals free medical services.

But after years of diplomatic standoff, the UAE appears to be reaching out by sending humanitarian assistance as Somalia faces one of its worst droughts in a decade.

The Emiratis have sent 26 tons of food and medical aid to the capital Mogadishu so far in an attempt at humanitarian diplomacy and the shipments were received by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, prompting a media and social media storm.

Roble apologized for the seizure of the money in 2018 and expressed his commitment towards resolving the diplomatic dispute between the two countries minutes after receiving the aid at the Adan Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.

But, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed issued a decree announcing that the confiscated money would not be released until the “entity” it belonged to was clear.

According to the presidential palace, the president ordered the country’s central bank governor not to release the confiscated $9.6 million.

Election influence

UAE is trying hard to influence the elections in Somalia in order to depose the current president. He said the UAE has succeeded to pit premier Roble against President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

“The UAE has never been a humanitarian donor in Somalia or elsewhere, and basically its foreign dealings with volatile countries are centered on a zero-sum game. It capitalizes on instabilities and humanitarian circumstances to press ahead its strategic and economic gains in weak countries,” he opined.

The Gulf country also has a long history of funding counter-revolutionary activities and coups abroad, suggesting that its recent humanitarian aid in Somalia was intended to buy some sort of political influence after years of hiatus.

“If the UAE is sincere in its humanitarian aid in Somalia, it should never have closed its hospital in Mogadishu years ago,”

Though relations between Somalia and the UAE have never been formally broken, there have been some differences of opinion and diplomatic disputes, he noted.

UAE’s geopolitical objectives

As a country with geopolitical ambitions in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, the UAE seeks to keep its interests intact in regional countries, especially Somalia, where it has recently resorted to “unprecedented interference,” some experts believe.

Foreign policy based on mutual respect

When some gulf countries cut ties with Qatar in 2017, the UAE mounted pressure on Somalia to follow suit. But, Somalia had opted to remain neutral, frustrating the Emiratis.

“In the wake of that decision, the UAE retaliated with unprecedented interference, and blatantly violated Somalia’s sovereignty and political independence