Professor Hassan Keynan posted in Caasidmada Online on 7 October 2019 an Open Letter to the Emir of Qatar, His Royal Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The purpose of this communication as he said is to deliver a message from the besieged people of Jubaland, Somalia. As if His Royal Highness was in the dock for crimes he committed against Jubaland, Keynan asks him in no uncertain terms:
“Have you heard about the brutal blockade imposed on the people of Jubaland by the rogue Mogadishu-based government that misgoverns my country with your backing and blessing? Has the news of the human tragedy unfolding in the Jubaland State of Somalia reached you? What have the poor and vulnerable people of Jubaland done to you and your country to deserve such savage and egregious assault on their humanity and dignity in the hands of the proxies of the Al-Thani ruling family in Mogadishu?”
Professor Keynan’s pulls no punches in his strident concocted strictures against the Emir. His indictment against him amounts to almost crimes against humanity against what he calls the “poor and vulnerable people of Jubaland”. These crimes, the professor alleges, arise from the “the brutal blockade imposed on the people of Jubaland by the rogue Mogadishu-based government” with the Emir’s “backing”. This alleged blockade of Jubaland conjures up a situation in which the area is denied land, sea and air access to the outside world. It evokes similarity with Israeli’s merciless total blockade of Gaza and the perpetual suffering it inflicts on its helpless miserable people. This is what Qatar is doing to Jubaland, directly or indirectly, if the Professor is to be believed.
Kismayo and Jubaland are not on another planet. They are part and parcel of our homeland. Of course there is no such blockade on Jubaland, pure and simple. One can simply debunk Professor Keynan’s bogus Jubaland blockade through simple logic. One has to ask whether the Emir would ever be so rash and contemplate being party to a blockage anywhere in Somalia, and if so what would his country, itself a victim of total blockade by domineering troublesome neighbours, would gain from doing the same to the “poor people” of Jubaland? This is inconceivable.
Far from gaining anything, Qatar would on the contrary have much to lose. It very much appreciates the principled courageous stand taken by Somalia in defying the dictates of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to sever relations with the Sheikhdom. Why would Qatar choose to be nasty to the people of Jubaland and let all that valuable goodwill and sacrifice the Somali nation made for them, as government and people, go down the drain and? Of course they would not. Clearly, what the professor is spewing out is clearly fake specious news meant to make the Emir remorseful and terminate aid to the federal government of Somalia. If it does, it would certainly not be for his preposterous story.
Coming now to the reality in Jubaland, the only restriction temporarily imposed by the federal government is direct flight to Kismayo from outside the state. This is a far cry from a blockade which implies total restrictions of access to the town and its region by land, sea and air. Flights to Kismayo are mainly passenger flights and some light goods given the high cost of air transport. Otherwise, Kismayo and its state depend on its port for external trade and road transport for internal communication and commerce within Somalia. Otherwise, all essential requirements are still accessible through the port, and through land corridors.
As for the justification for the direct flights restrictions to Kismayo, that has to be seen against the background of the disputed Jubaland presidential election. Unless memories are short, the outgoing incumbent, Ahmed Madoobe, in his eagerness to override the federal government, has declared himself the winner and sought the seal of approval not from the federal government and the Supreme Court but from a motley of unscrupulous disreputable former leaders and self-seeking unprincipled politicians, some with a history of treason, betrayals and unfettered robbery of the State. As if that was not already unpalatable, even secessions from Hargeisa were onboard for the inauguration.
This unholy alliance was not of course a response to a call to defend free and fair election, for there was none, or concern for the plight of the alleged Jubaland “blockage”, but simply motivated by short-sighted aim to do anything that would weaken President Farmaajo’s re-election prospects, or even bring down the State as in the case of the secessionists. Pursuing personal gain is far more important to them irrespective of the damage they are doing to the authority of the highest office in the land which they once held. Clearly, Professor Keynan is a fellow traveler. All his hue and cry about the “blockade” and gratuitously shaming Qatar are red herrings. It is all done to get at Farmaajo. He may or may not deserve it, but he has no right to drag Qatar into a messy Somali internal affair from which it has no interest at stake and nothing to gain from Farmaajo and Ahmed Madoobe’s tussle?
The real issue in Jubaland is not the fake blockade but the implications of Ahmed Madoobe’s defiance of the supremacy of the federal authority when called to intermediate in matters of its competence within a Member States. If he gets away with it that could serve as a dangerous precedent not least lost upon other “rogue” regional leaders. Once they see the federal government as a toothless bulldog what could stop him or other regional leaders in the future to secede, taking leaf from Somaliland’s book,? This has serious implication for the authority of the central government and indeed for the sanctity of the State and the rule of law. In this regard, the federal government was duty bound to stop this extra-judicial sham process to crown Ahmed Madoobe as a prelude to deal with the disputed election. Of all the actions the federal government could have taken, the flight restrictions to Kismayo were the least painful in the face of Ahmed Madoobe’s insurrection and grave challenge to it and to its legal institutions (Supreme Court).
To recap, Professor Keynan’s fabricated accusations against Qatar are not basically about concern for the “suffering people of Jubaland” when the blockade he is alleging amounts to flight restrictions to the city which at the best of times are few. His true aim is to drive a wedge between Qatar and President Farmaajo and pull the plug on their financial largesse to Villa Somalia. Without that help, he and his cohorts reckon, Farmaajo will be hamstrung to challenge the regional leaders or to get reelected. For him the end justifies the means. Throwing baseless accusations against Qatar is in order to get at Farmaajo’s downfall.. Thankfully, the Emir and his kingdom know better than to be swayed by this sort of defamation against them.
By: Osman Hassan
Former UN Official
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