Somalia restores diplomatic ties with Kenya after Qatar's mediation
MOGADISHU, Somalia - In one of the most dramatic events, the federal republic of Somalia has restored diplomatic relationship with Kenya, just amid an ongoing political crisis in Mogadishu, which has seen Nairobi hold a low profile, despite sitting at the United Nations Security Council [UNSC].
Citing unconfirmed "political interference," Somalia ended ties with Kenya on December 2020, insisting that Nairobi was determined to bring down the government in Mogadishu by working with "unfriendly" states and opposition leaders.
Kenya vehemently denied the allegations and would later be supported by a committee of diplomats from Djibouti, appointed by the Intergovernmental Authority and Development [IGAD], responsible for regional peace. Nairobi did not retaliate to cut diplomatic ties with Mogadishu at the time.
Through state media, Somalia announced that "in keeping with the interests of good neighborliness, it has resumed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kenya." The Government of the Republic of Kenya, it added, "welcomes this gesture in keeping with the interests of good neighborliness."
Although Kenya has not publicly commented on the latest development, it's understood that Qatar played an essential role in the restoration of the diplomatic relationship. For almost a week, Emir Sheikh Tamim of Qatar had dispatched Mutlaq Alqahtani, a lead mediator, to Somalia and Kenya.
Earlier this week, Alqahtani met several top government officials in Somalia, where he asked both the opposition and government to work together for the sake of holding elections. On Thursday, he traveled to Nairobi, where he met President Uhuru Kenyatta and handed over a message of "goodwill" from Emir Sheikh Tamim.
"The Amir's message was delivered to the President by Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, who is the Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution," State House Nairobi announced.
Despite the decision by Somalia to cut the relationship, Kenya didn't issue any reprisals or retortions following a request by the government of Djibouti. President Uhuru Kenyatta has been keen to leave a legacy of regional integration ahead of his exit in 2022.
The two governments, Somalia said, "agree to keep friendly relations between the two countries based on principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence."
"The Presidents of both countries are grateful to the Emir of State of Qatar for his good offices in this regard," Somalia added in a statement issued by State media, SONNA.
Besides the frosty relationship over alleged political interference by Kenya in Somalia, particularly Jubaland, the two nations are also battling the oil-rich Indian Ocean maritime border. The case is still being arbitrated at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.