Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, intends to appoint new ambassadors to the Gulf States to expand his political influence in the region, according to reports.
After serving in opposition for five years, President Mohamud came to power in May 2022 and aims to replace diplomats who were aligned with his predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
In an effort to assert his control, President Mohamud has appointed Abshir Omar Huruse, a Puntland businessman with no diplomatic background, as Foreign Affairs Minister.
This strategic move gives him the freedom to choose ambassadors with the help of his right-hand man, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ali Mohamed Omar.
The priority is to remove the current ambassadors in, UAE, Egypt and Qatar, who are closely associated with Fahad Yasin, Farmajo’s former intelligence chief, according to Africa Intelligence report.
President Mohamud has closer ties to the UAE than Qatar, and he may use the recent departure of Qatar’s ambassador to Mogadishu to appoint someone from his inner circle in Qatar.
He will also appoint new ambassador to UAE, and will consider former Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, who is interested in becoming the next ambassador to Abu Dhabi. A friend of Puntland’s regional president, Said Abdullahi Deni, who has strong connections with the UAE also interested in the position.
The relations between Somalia and the UAE have been strained in recent years due to allegations of UAE interference in Somalia’s internal politics. Tensions reached a high point in 2018 after Somalia seized $9.6 million from a UAE plane in Mogadishu, leading the UAE to close a military facility and hospital in the city and disband its military training mission.
In February 2022, the money was released, and Somalia’s Prime Minister apologized, which the UAE accepted. President Mohamud, who has recently started his second tenure, has prioritized repairing diplomatic relations with the UAE.
In June 2022, President Mohamud met with the UAE President and expressed gratitude for the UAE’s support and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between their countries in various sectors, particularly development, and peace in Somalia.
The Somali ambassador to Egypt, Ilyas Sheikh Oma, is also expected to be removed from his position due to his close ties to Yasin.
The change may also extend to other ambassadors, including the one in Saudi Arabia, who was appointed by Farmajo, Salim Hagi Ma’ow.
President Mohamud recently visited Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh sent Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al-Muwallad to serve in Mogadishu after the embassy was re-opened in 2021. Diplomatic relations with the Gulf States are crucial for attracting investment to Somalia.