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South West accuses Farmaajo of indecisiveness, sides with Saudi Arabia in Gulf feud

Storyline:National News
The move by South West state to side with Saudi Arabia could further alienate President Farmaajo who has sought to maintain his stature as his own man in the Gulf Crisis. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

South West state has joined Puntland in breaking ranks with the Federal Government to align itself with Saudi Arabia and the UAE further weakening the government’s continued neutral stand in the ongoing Gulf Crisis.

In a strongly worded statement Monday, South West state is accusing the Federal Government of dragging its feet on the matter two months after a national forum bringing together leaders of regional administrations and the federal government expressed its reservations against a neutral stand.
“We expressed in the leadership Forum held in Mogadishu, July 2017, that Somalia cannot take a neutral position because of our historical relationship as well as strategic partnership we have with UAE and Saudi Arabia,” the press release read in part.

Gulf allies
Citing historical, cultural and commercial relationships with UAE and Saudi, Sharif Hassan Adan Administration said, the Forum held the view ‘the current position will alienate Somalis in general, and these two regions with its natural Gulf allies,”.

In building its pitch to vacate the Federal Government’s position, South West state says President Mohamed Farmaajo’s administration requested for time to come up with ways to review the position and concerns of the states but has since not charted the way forward.

“Because of the time elapsed since, and the Federal Government’s uncompromising position on this matter, South West State of Somalia have no choice but to stand with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for their noble pursuit to fight extremism in any form, and their firm stance on the relations to this issue,” the regional state concluded in what could further erode the Farmaajo’s resolve to stand on the fence.

Puntland’s move
South West State’s decision comes exactly a month after the semi-autonomous region, Puntland declared its allegiance to Saudi Arabia and UAE in the three month old Gulf feud noting Somalia’s neutral stand was no longer tenable in light of economic and security challenges.

“We acknowledge the fact that the Middle East issue will not be resolved anytime soon and the continuing crisis will have security as well as developmental implications throughout Somalia,” the statement read in part.”

Revenue cut-off
The UN warned last week the Gulf Crisis was strangling investment and revenue streams for Somalia observing, ‘Federal Government’s declaration of neutrality, while receiving widespread support, has not gone down well with certain constituencies.”

Villa Somalia announced June it would not be taking any sides in the Gulf issue even as a number of Muslim African countries among them Djibouti, Egypt, and Senegal threw their weight behind Saudi Arabia in what observers read as bold stand by President Farmaajo in stamping Somalia’s right to decide its own fate on the matter.

Further shake-up
But the move by Puntland and South West state, two of the country’s most influential in terms of political clout could shake the ground further. The former HirShabelle state president Abdullahi Ali Osoble released a similar statement as Puntland last month two days after he was ousted by the state assembly.
It is not however clear if other regional administrations could follow suit but the break-away region of Somaliland had from the start stood its ground in support of Saudi Arabia.

The economic influence of the UAE on state governments could lend credence to their decisions in breaking ranks with Federal Government. Two of UAE’s state owned port management companies, DP World and P&O have both signed multi-million port concession pacts with Somaliland and Puntland respectively with talks of similar pacts to manage Kismayu Jubbaland State) and Barawe (HirShabelle) ports in the offing.