According to. The National Interest Qatari influence and Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s over-reliance on Doha have reversed years of security progress.
Somalis, both at home and abroad, were optimistic when Mr Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was elected Somalia’s president in February 2017. Diplomats and the development community shared this optimism, believing Farmajo to be honest, energetic, and reformist. Forty months’ of Farmajo’s rule show that initial optimism to be misplaced if not naïve.
Today, Somalia is in a far worse state than it was before he took the helm. Security is dire; the economy has collapsed; federal states is alienated; and foreign policy is unfocused. Additionally, national institutions have been paralyzed At this point,
Farmajo made with Qatar, and the malign influence the Gulf state exerts on almost every facet of Somali politics and diplomacy. Somali people now talk about how Qatar’s desire to wage a proxy war against other regional powers shapes Somali foreign policy. As most states emerge from conflict and failure, they seek to establish broad-based relations. At Qatar’s behest,
Farmajo, however, has downgraded its deep, strategic, and historic relationship with other Gulf states and Egypt. This move made Somalia even more dependent on Qatar which, ironically, then failed to fulfill the projects it promised for Somalia.
An even greater tragedy for the Somali people is how Qatari influence and Farmajo’s over-reliance on Doha reversed years of security progress. It was at Qatar’s suggestion that Farmajo appointed his Svengali, Fahad Yassin, to head Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) even though Yassin, a former al-Shabaab commander, had no security or intelligence background.
Under Qatari tutelage, Yassin dismantled key pillars of the agency, systematically and methodically replaced professional and experienced operatives with amateur sycophants and effectively served as a clearinghouse for Qatari intelligence operations in the Horn of Africa. NISA operations no longer focus on the battle against Al-Shabaab, and instead are geared to silence political opposition and critical voices in civil society.
Qatari meddling in internal Somali politics is equally reprehensible and could undermine Somalia’s future as a functional and viable state. With Qatari support, Farmajo has sought to reverse the federalism which is at the center of Somalia’s post-civil war political order. It has provided financial and logistical resources to impose Farmajo loyalists on reluctant member states. So far the campaign has been successful in the South West State and Galmudug.
Farmajo was less successful so far in undermining regional governments in Puntland and Jubaland. Farmajo and Qatar have also worked to undermine political checks-and-balances in Mogadishu. They have marginalized the senate, and Qatari money channeled through Yasin has corrupted parliament. After the Qatari-financed and the violent ouster of Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman “Jawari,” the chamber has become little more than a rubber stamp.
Together these efforts to reassert dictatorial control has galvanized violent opposition and augmented al-Shabab recruitment as Farmajo and Yassin shred trust in nascent structures and compacts. Particularly odious has been the Qatar-financed campaign to destabilize and destroy Somalia.