MOGADISHU – On a number of issues, you bet Somalia would rally behind Saudi Arabia against some of its adversaries given the fact that Saudis splushed some relatively large financial aid packages in recent years. But the inconvenient reality is that this time round, Somali government’s awkward support to Saudis over missing journalist’s case plays crisis to its geopolitical advantage.
As the consensus grows that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, there’s been a growing backlash to the regime in Riyadh. Even, some of its closest allies including the US vowed to ‘punish’ the kingdom if reports that it was behind the murder turns out to be true.
Even with that, Somali government has impulsively furnished its support for “brotherly” Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and warned against attempts to harm Saudi Arabia by targeting its economic interests’ in an apparent potential back against Saudi Arabia over the journalist’s murder.
This has came as a shock and jarring to many, and more surprisingly the timing of its support which comes barely a week after Somalia has been admitted into the UN’s Human Rights Body.
“Its basically a political shock and self-inflicted damage in the eyes of the world.” said Ahmed Mohamed, a Somali university professor.
The awkward move has also exposed Somali government’s willingness to set aside human rights as a principal foreign policy, thus missing the bigger picture.
With that, Somali government reluctance to vouch for its country’s values and its public support for places like Saudi Arabia where opponents are routinely prosecuted, dissents and critical journalists are hunted and killed overseas by the state-sponsored agents showed that financial incentives rides it received from the kingdom is roughshod over Somali leaders’ moral values thus making their affectionate embrace of the royal family nevertheless right of way.
“This chaos on the policy front has literally unglued Somalia’s dire intentions regarding human rights.” Mohamed noted.
Paradoxically, this makes one thing clear: For now, at least, we’re seeing the mistake and hurriedness by the United Nations to admit Somalia, a country with a dark human rights record into its human rights council, an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
Somalia’s actions also marked the end of its government’s lip service to human rights and that it’s still willing to overlook abuses instead of frowning at abuses.
“In the Somalia case, it gives the impression that you can de-emphasize rights issues when it comes to money and sponsor.” said Joseph Perkinson, a Nairobi-based horn of Africa analyst of the Somalia’s unanticipated support for the Saudis.
But having done so, what Somalia did not anticipate was that in the eyes of the world they had crossed a red line.
Despite lacking any history of positive human rights record, the current government which since it came to power tended to spun narratives of itself as a human rights defender now stumbled in the Saudi Fog.
“That’s what perhaps cheated the UN Human rights council that led to Somalia’s admission into the council – but Somalia’s true color towards human rights rolled up sooner than later.” Perkinson said.
Somalia’s insensitive support for Saudi Arabia in a case which shocked the world demonstrates the likely scenario to symbolize the path to come for Somalia on human rights.
Somalia may, however, be playing for higher stakes.
“Saudi Arabia knows how to manage diplomatic crises. Its strategy is to manage tensions to its advantage, but Somalia may be playing a game which is not theirs and could well batter its image further,”