Gulf gambit: Somalia’s PM bets big on Qatari ties

Doha (Caasimada Online) – In what seems to be a growing alliance between the Horn of Africa and the Gulf, Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre descended on Qatar on Monday for a pivotal five-day diplomatic visit.

On the agenda? Conversations with top brass, including Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Also on Barre’s meeting roster is a contingent of influential Qatari business leaders, suggesting that economic collaborations might be on the horizon.

Echoing these speculations, reports hint that the two nations are poised to ink several agreements focused on boosting investments in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

Qatar’s significant role in Somalia’s peace efforts

“The role of Qatar is paramount in assisting our pursuit for peace, economic growth, and political settlements,” Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Salah Jama commented in a recent interview with Caasimada Online.

This statement came as no surprise, given Qatar’s 2021 peace mediation between Kenya and Somalia and its subsequent efforts to facilitate peace in the region.

Further underscoring Qatar’s commitment, Doha hosted a crucial multi-party discussion on Somalia’s intricate political scenario in June.

Officials from Somalia, the US, the UK, the UAE, and Turkey converged in the Gulf nation’s capital for this dialogue.

Under the keen oversight of Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation, Lolwah Al Khater, the assembly delved into strategies bolstering Somalia’s resistance against Al-Shabaab and transitions involving the African Union.

Emerging as the radical youth faction of the defunct Union of Islamic Courts, Al Shabaab—Arabic for ‘The Youth’—once held the reins of Mogadishu in 2006 before being expelled by Ethiopian forces.

The militant group, with its nefarious nexus linking it to Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, holds a clear objective: overturn Somalia’s central administration to impose a stringent version of Islamic law.

Qatar’s humanitarian footprint in Somalia

Beyond diplomacy, Qatar has firmly planted its feet in Somalia’s humanitarian landscape, especially in light of the intensifying drought crisis.

Teaming up with the US and the UK, Qatar funneled $10.5 million in drought assistance to Somalia in June. This infusion sustained the Building Resilient Communities in Somalia consortium, a crucial lifeline for the nation.

Qatar’s philanthropic blueprint in Somalia continues. Last year, in response to escalating international appeals for aid, Qatar pledged $1.5 million to fortify emergency response and resilience-building.

The gravity of the situation is such that over half a million Somali children under five are navigating the perilous waters of malnutrition and mortality risks.

This year’s drought, touted as the most severe in four decades, casts shadows of impending famines and dislocations.

To contextualize the crisis, data from the UN last year painted a grim picture: a surge of over 755,000 internally displaced Somalis owing to the drought, with the tally topping a million since January 2021.

The UN aptly encapsulated the direness, describing the Somali situation as a “protracted refugee” crisis rooted in decades of political instability and civil unrest since the 1990s.