Somalia received a pledge of aid for $50 million from Saudi Arabia this month on the same day it announced it was cutting ties with Saudi rival Iran, a document seen by Reuters showed.
The government, which did not confirm or deny the pledge, has said there was no link between long-running Saudi financial support and its diplomatic decision to break ties with Iran. The Saudi Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
But diplomats said it was the latest sign of patronage used by the kingdom to shore up regional support against Iran, a rivalry that deepened this month when Sunni majority Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric and Iranian protesters responded by torching the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
“The Saudis currently manage to rally countries behind them both on financial grounds and the argument of non-interference,” a diplomat said, referring to what Sunni-majority countries see as Iran’s habit of cultivating ties to their Shi’ite minorities.
A document from the Saudi embassy in Nairobi to the Somali embassy in the Kenyan capital showed the kingdom pledging $20 million in budget support and another $30 million for investment in Somalia, a nation trying to rebuild after two decades of war.
The two grants would come from the Saudi Development Fund, according to the document that was dated Jan. 7, the same day Somalia cut ties with Tehran.
Somalia cut relations with Iran saying Tehran had meddled in Somali affairs and threatened national security. Mogadishu gave Iranian diplomats, among the few stationed in the Somali capital where bomb attacks are frequent, 72 hours to leave.
Somalia’s Finance Minister Mohamed Aden Ibrahim declined to comment on the pledges, but said any financial assistance from Saudi Arabia was not related to Mogadishu’s stance against Iran.
“Our relationship with Saudi Arabia was long-standing and is not something that has just started,” the minister told Reuters.
Several other Arab states such as neighboring Bahrain, a long-time close ally and recipient of Saudi largesse also cut ties. Other wealthier Gulf states withdrew envoys.
Sudan, which like Somalia and Saudi Arabia is a member of the Arab League, said it had cut ties with non-Arab Iran.
Somalia’s ties with Saudi Arabia have grown as it tries to rebuild a nation while battling an Islamist insurgency, although Western powers and Turkey remain among the biggest and more prominent donors to the country.
Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, met King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud in Saudi Arabia in October. A Saudi team had visited Somalia in late 2015 to discuss further Saudi support for the country.
“Any financial and other requests that we made to the Saudis were way before” Somali cut ties with Iran, Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer told Reuters.
Somaliland Head To Polls For Councillors And MPs On May 31, 2021 Last updated May 31, 2021
Voters in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland are heading to the polls on May, 31 to choose their member of parliament for the first time since 2005.
Somaliland broke off from mainland Somalia after the regime of Siad Barre in 1991.
The 5.2 Million citizens of Somaliland will be making yet another stab at global recognition as some 1.3 million voters head to the polls to choose 82 members of parliament and 247 local councils.
An election whose measure of democracy Somaliland hopes to use in its quest to certify its sovereignty.
Somaliland’s three political parties in the polls are opposition politicians Faisal Warabe’s UCID, Wadani led by another opposition leader Abdirahman Erye and President Muse Bihi Kulmiye party.
The elections is observed by over a hundred international observers including Uganda’s former opposition leader, Kizza Besigye and ex-president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Korma.
”Our visit to the headquarters of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission left us with a good impression about the Commission’s preparedness to conduct peaceful and credible elections,” said in a Twitter post.
The elections are taking place in six regions of Somaliland, namely Awdal, Sahil, Marodi-Jeeh, Toghdeer, Sanaag and Sool.
3 Somalia Regional States Say No To Farmaajo Term Extension.
The regional state leaders of Southwest, HirShabelle, and Galmudug allied with incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo have opposed to any form of extension on Tuesday evening.
In a joint statement Galmudug and HirShabelle called for dialogue based on 17 September pact.
“We agreed that the country should hold elections as soon as possible and that any form of extension should be abolished,” read part of the joint statement by HirShabelle and Galmudug.
Southwest leader Abdiaziz laftagaren also opposed the term extension of the President just an hour after Galmudug and HirShabelle released a joint statement.
The move by the three regional states allied to President was welcomed by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who also instructed the military commanders to pull back forces to their locations and barracks.
“I would like to welcome the press statements made by Galmudug and HirShabelle federal states, ” PM Roboe said in a statement.
“I call on the FMS states of Puntland and Jubaland and Benadir region to fully commit to a peaceful process in our efforts to hold free and inclusive election, ” he added.
United Nations, United Kingdom, United States and opposition leaders including former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud commended the move by the regional states.
“The UN in Somalia noting statements by Qoorqqor, Ali Gudlawe, PM Roble and others recalls int’l partners position: consensus is vital for any electoral process; only 17 September model can be endorsed by FGS and all FMS; all parties must reject violence and resume dialogue, ” the United Nations said.
The development comes as families in some parts of Mogadishu fleed from their residences and moved to other district followings clashes.
Somali Gov’t Warns Al-Shabaab & ISIS Will Capitalize On SNA Faction Clashes.
Somali National Security Minister Hassan Hundubey has warned opposition groups to be wary of “unknown elements” including Al-Shabaab and Daesh who might seek to use the current crisis to inflict harm to the public.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday said that the government may take action to confront people with the “behaviour of militias” who are taking advantage of the situation.
“The government has enough troops to take control of the city. It is Ramadan, but more actions need to be taken to prevent it.” mr. Hundebey said.
”The reason the prime minister called for dialogue is that the government does not want the fighting to affect the residence,” he added.
The remarks by the interior minister come hours after the international partners strongly condemned the outbreak of violence in the capital.
“We are alarmed especially by the emerging fragmentation of the Somali National Army along clan lines, which detracts from its primary task of combating Al Shabab and protecting the Somali population. Use of security forces for the pursuit of political objectives is unacceptable” the statement read in part.
As tensions increase in Mogadishu following Sunday clashes between government soldiers and those who were against President Farmaajo’s two years term extension.