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Go slow on foreign policy matters, think tank tells Farmaajo

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki match along with his Somali counterpart President Mohamed Farmaajo during a state visit July 28 in Asmara. Photo: online

Somali government must reconsider its pace of response on foreign policy issues and seek understanding on the import of its diplomatic engagements, a Mogadishu based policy think tank has said urging President Mohamed Farmaajo to guard relations with old allies in light of changing geopolitical alignments in the region.

In a policy brief this week, Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) raised alarm over what it termed as Mogadishu’s engagement in ‘impetuous foreign policy’ which has especially in the recent past put the country in an awkward position a case in point being the spat with Djibouti. Djibouti filed a complaint to Somalia last month saying it was ‘shocked’ by President Farmaajo’s call for lifting of sanctions against Eritrea during his visit to Asmara.

“As a deeply fragile nation still recovering from decades of conflict, Somalia cannot afford to engage in impetuous foreign policy,” HIPS observed.

The think tank urged President Farmaajo’s administration to ‘reduce the speed at which it makes decisions. “Nations cannot have blind spots in an increasingly crowded foreign policy highway with no rules,” the brief noted.

The government also came under sharp criticism early this month over its decision to back Saudi Arabia following a diplomatic row with Canada with many Somalis rebuking the government for turning a back on Canada which they said had hosted many Somali refugees some of whom had been deported by Saudi Arabia. Others wondered what business the government had in joining in the spat which was largely a bilateral dispute.

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The Federal government must stand its ground against other states, the brief recommends but added, “This can only happen if the government’s actions are based on the best interests of the state rather than the government and if it institutionalizes its decision making, operating within the realm and confines of the rule of law.”

Though a remit of the Federal Government, the policy brief notes, decision making on foreign policy must involve the input of the regional states.

“Farmaajo must recognize that almost all strategic decisions in Somalia need to be inclusive and consultative and therefore widen the consultative process when he makes consequential decisions.”