Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Somalia-Kenya: President Mohamud, President Kenyatta: Foes or Friends?

Somalia – Kenya: President Mohamud,
President Kenyatta: Foes or Friends?

Posted on December 28, 2013
Ahmed Said (Abwaan Kuluc)


A popular Somali website published an article stating that during Somali President’s recent visit to Nairobi Kenya, the Somali president did not receive a proper presidential welcome at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Airport. Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was visiting Kenya for talks over a border dispute between the two countries. However, according to the website, Kenya and Somalia did not comment on the incident.

Somalia took a federal system in 2004 and the current Somali Federal Government is based on that. Although it is the mandate of the Somali government to help build Somali States, there is a lot of work ahead. Puntland, Jubaland, and Somaliland are the only operational local Somali States in Somalia. Nevertheless, Somaliland declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

But Jubaland (currently and officially known as Jubba) was at loggerheads in this year, 2013, with the Federal Government of Somalia because the Federal Government of Somalia refused to recognize Jubaland citing grounds that the Jubaland State was not inclusive at the State level at that time and was a puppet of Kenya as Kenyan troops were in Jubaland after a long battle aimed at ousting Al-Shabab. It was only recently when the government of Somalia officially recognized Jubaland as Jubba. However, Somalia’s diplomatic wrangle with Kenya over Jubba State seems to have not completely healed in the sense that Kenya has more influences on Jubba instead of Somalia’s Federal Government having the influences.

Somalia-Kenya border dispute is marital dispute and over the years, there were unconfirmed reports that the two countries were negotiating to solve the sea dispute problem.

There were also claims that Kenya is using Somalia’s Juba State bordering it as a baffo zone to repel Al-Shabab and to advance its interests as Kenya explores oil in its territories bordering Somalia. Kenya also wants to harness potential oil wealth in the seas close to Somalia and allegedly beyond in Somali territories.

If you look at different fronts, Somalia and Kenya share interests as two neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa. In contrast, the two countries seems to be in almost secret loathing as Kenyan troops are still in Southern Somalia and became a part of the African Union Force known as UNISOM which currently guards the weak Somali Federal Government against being toppled by Al-Shabab. Maybe ‘secret loathing’ is the right word because Somalia’s Federal Government is still suspicious of Kenya’s national interests as Kenya is a close ally of Somalia’s Jubba State.

In the article published by the above mentioned Somali website, there is a picture showing Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta talking at same time with hand gestures and body language sending the message that the two leaders were not interested in each others’ point. The two leaders should know that leading the two countries to the right paths is the only right path…because for both leaders, they have already got too many problems on their plates facing them in their countries: Somalia has earned the sobriquet of ‘failed state’ and it is the responsibility of president Hassan sheikh mohamud to change that and it is no time for him to turn President Uhuru Kenyatta from a friend into a rival: in recent years, Kenya underwent Election violence and president Uhuru Kenyatta currently faces crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court at the Hague for inciting the violence; he has no time either to turn president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from a friend into a rival: their working together is the true interests of both leaders and both countries.
Ahmed Said (Abwaan Kuluc) is a Somali American Writer based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, United States. He can be reached at abdinassirsomalia@gmail.com .

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