Somalia’s president to undertake diplomatic drive in Russia

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – In the face of debilitating social and political hurdles, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud prepares to step onto the global stage. His aim? To enhance Somalia’s position at the upcoming Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, a move confirmed by Somali Foreign Minister Abshir Omar Huruse.

The delegation’s journey to Russia holds strategic significance for Somalia. The nation needs weapons and ammunition to strengthen its fight against Al-Shabab militant group.

In May, Somali diplomats disclosed Russia’s offer to bolster Somali armed forces in the battle against terrorism.

Rumors have circulated about Russia possibly employing Wagner mercenaries to train Somali troops. However, Minister Huruse remained reticent about his discussions with Russian officials.

A show of support

The presence of President Mohamud at the summit has been received positively by Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed gratitude for the President’s personal involvement.

“We are grateful to our Somali friends for the decision of Somali President Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to attend this event in person,” he noted.

Lavrov further voiced his appreciation for Somalia’s balanced stance on the Ukraine issue, stating, “I believe the vast majority of developing countries understand the primary causes of this crisis, which are rooted in the ambitions of the United States and its allies.”

Moreover, Lavrov assured that Russia stands ready to back Somalia’s legitimate positions in the UN Security Council, stressing the importance of lifting the arms embargo on Somalia, which he sees as a hindrance to the Somali government’s efforts towards stability.

Balancing act: Somalia’s challenge

Somalia faces a labyrinth of challenges. It grapples with political instability, governance issues, and clan rivalries.

The humanitarian scenario is bleak, with over half the population urgently needing aid. A looming food crisis threatens 6.6 million people, while 1.8 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition.

To add to the turmoil, Russia’s recent pullout from the Black Sea Grain Deal disrupted Ukrainian agricultural exports to East African nations, including Somalia.

The country relies heavily on Ukrainian grain, particularly given the global climate change impacts.

Meanwhile, Finland, a substantial humanitarian supporter of Somalia, has declared it will withhold aid from nations backing Russia’s war in Ukraine, creating more uncertainty for Mogadishu.

The Finland Foreign Ministry has earmarked EUR 54 million for bilateral cooperation in Somalia from 2021 to 2024, focusing on state-building and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In 2021 and 2022, Finland also pledged EUR 6.6 million for projects related to the Somalia Multi-Partner Fund (MPF) via the World Bank to improve healthcare and education.

As Somalia faces the Russia-Africa Summit amid these intricate challenges, the stakes have never been higher.

Navigating the shifting geopolitical landscape is daunting for the nation’s leaders, who must seek critical support and aid for Somalia’s stabilization and development.