Somalia should realise who its true friends are
Somalia emerged from decades of lawlessness, thanks to friends like the UAE. Now it wants to go down that road again by shunning true long-time partners who have stood by it and supported the government during trying times when the country was being torn apart by militancy and violence. Part-time suitors have emerged on the horizon and Somalia has forgotten the word ‘gratitude’. It was in the grip of famine, gangs roamed the streets, sea piracy was rampant, governments came and went, militias ruled, administration was in the pits and all hell had broken loose when the UAE came to its rescue and helped it find its feet. The primary task was to string together a security apparatus to curb the spread of militancy and the rise of terror groups like Al Shabab who had threatened to overrun the country. Remember, it was the UAE that stepped in when when even UN efforts had failed to restore order in the 1990s and early 2000s. Somalia needed to rebuild institutions and infrastructure, the people must take charge of their destiny; they must be governed by popular representatives — it was a broad two-pronged approach to tackle decades of civil strife. First, the UAE cracked down on sea piracy, helped build the Somali coast guard, and strengthened the hands of the government by training local Somali troops to defend the country. Funds poured in for power, water, health, ports and roads.
Slowly, the country got its act together and the security situation has improved since 2012, but Somalia seems eager to bite the hand that feeds it. There are new players in the country like Turkey and Qatar who want their share of the strategic pie. Funds sent by the UAE to pay salaries have been seized by Somali forces, which is not the way to treat a friend and partner. Somalia should realise that the path it is taking will destabilise the Horn of Africa region. Fairweather friends like Turkey and Qatar are a sign of a gathering storm.