Cairo (Caasimada Online) – Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sameh Shokry, met with his Somali counterpart, Absher Omar Huruse, on Tuesday in Cairo to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation on matters of mutual interest.
The meeting took place as part of an official delegation headed by Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Bari, who is currently visiting Egypt.
Both ministers highlighted the positive momentum in the relationship between Egypt and Somalia. They expressed a desire to continue building on this progress.
Shokry emphasized Egypt’s full solidarity with Somalia in the face of terrorism and its readiness to support Somali forces in that realm. He also noted that Egypt is committed to providing medical aid and food to help the country deal with the challenges of drought. Furthermore, the Egyptian Minister underlined the importance of security and stability in Somalia, a country that locate given its strategic location on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
The two ministers also discussed several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) that the prime ministers of both countries will sign during the visit. These MoUs will further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in several key areas, including trade, investment, and security.
Additionally, they discussed the security situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region and ways to support the peacekeeping efforts of the African Union (AU) in Somalia.
On his part, Huruse praised the existing cooperation between Egypt and Somalia in healthcare and education, among others. He also thanked Egypt for delivering training courses to Somali professionals and granting scholarships to Somali students. Huruse noted that the Somali people have confidence in Egypt and appreciate its support. He also emphasized that these efforts have positively impacted the development of the Somali economy and the well-being of its people.
In recent months, Egypt has stepped up diplomatic efforts to have more influence in Somalia. This is in part because of the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in June 2020.
Mohamud’s reelection presented an opportunity for Egypt to bypass the block between the two countries that was allegedly imposed by former President Mohamed Abdullah ‘Farmaajo’, who was a close ally of Turkey and Qatar and had also built more robust relations with Ethiopia and Eritrea during his time in power.
The lack of Egypt’s presence in Somalia in the last 20 years has given rise to Turkey and Iran, filling this void in the Horn of Africa. Turkey has a sizeable military presence in Mogadishu, and many Somalian soldiers receive training in Turkey.
In fact, In August 2020, Turkey’s Ambassador to Mogadishu, Mehmet Yilmaz, told Anadolu Agency that his country is on track to train one-third of Somali military forces, totaling around 15,000-16,000 personnel, most of them at the Counter-Terrorism Training and Exercise Center in the southwestern province of Isparta.
As such, Egypt is looking to play a more active role in the region and is keen on re-establishing itself as a major player in the Horn of Africa. In this vein, during a visit to Cairo in July 2020, President Mohamud met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and discussed advancing economic and strategic relations, counterterrorism, and supporting the spread of moderate Islam in line with Al-Azhar’s interpretation.