Qatar and Turkey "meddle" in Somalia's political crisis
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Qatar, and the Republic of Turkey have allegedly been directly involved in meddling with Somalia's political crisis, a move that could significantly shape the country's politics, given sharp differences between government and the opposition, emanating from the two countries' cooperation with Somalia.
The two countries have been trying to influence the Horn of Africa, and Somalia has been a major focal point given its strategic location within the region thus competing interests to stamp authority in the country.
For the last several months, Somalia has been embroiled in a deep political crisis following Farmajo's decision to approve a term extension that had been passed in the Lower House. However, Farmajo has since rescinded the decision.
But Qatar dispatched Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, the Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, and is expected to try and broker a deal that would see the country return to normalcy.
Al-Qahtani is expected to meet with Somali officials and members of the international community during the two-day visit to Mogadishu. He was previously involved in the US and Afghan-Taliban negotiations, thus his high profile on matters conflict and mediation.
On Saturday, Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani arrived in Mogadishu. Al-Qahtani had, however, stopped by in Hargeisa where he met with Somaliland officials. Qatar has been a close ally of Somalia, at times leading to hostility from the United Arab Emirates, another economic powerhouse.
At Hargeisa, the envoy held a meeting with President Muse Bihi Abdi, and the two held discussions based on bilateral ties of Qatar and Somaliland". The move could significantly affect the relationship between Qatar and Somalia given that Somaliland seceded from the latter after a major fallout.
But opposition politicians who spoke to Garowe Online questioned Qatar's "genuineness" arguing that the country is "notorious" for supporting the current government which has "lost trust" from among the people. They accused the Middle East nation of "meddling" in Somalia's internal politics.
The arrival of the Qatari delegation in Somalia comes as the African Union [AU] is expected to send a special envoy to Mogadishu to oversee the efforts to resolve the stalemate over the polls.
Qatar, Turkey, and Ethiopia were not among the countries in the international partners that opposed Farmajo's two-year illegal term extension that was nullified on Saturday, May 1 by the same Lower House that endorsed the controversial bill on April 12.
Qatar has often been accused of supporting outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo through National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] chief Fahad Yasin, who has very close links with Doha. They have often denied the allegations.
Elsewhere, Turkey, which also has close contact in Somalia, welcomed the decision by the Lower House to rescind the term extension, saying the move will allow the country to implement September 17 pre-election deal.
"We welcome the decision of the Lower House of the Somali Parliament today (1 May), which endorses holding the elections on the basis of the 17 September agreement as soon as possible," it said.
"We hope that this development will serve to restart constructive talks among political stakeholders without delay and ensure progress on the basis of social consensus by overcoming disagreements. Turkey while standing, as always, by the friendly and brotherly people of Somalia, will continue its strong support in this context."
Turkey and Qatar have massively invested in the federal republic of Somalia but their close cooperation has often raised questions from the members of the opposition, who accuse them of supporting the politics of the country.