SOMALIA CUTS DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH KENYA CASTING DOUBTS OVER NAIROBI – MOGADISHU FLIGHTS
(Posted 21st December 2020)
Cutting one’s nose to spite the face comes to mind as news are emerging that Somalia has cut diplomatic relations with neighbours Kenya. Kenyan diplomats were given 7 days to pack up and leave and have since arrived back home.
The move comes after an official visit of the President of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi to Nairobi and the agreement with President Kenyatta to upgrade mutual liaison offices in Hargeisa and Nairobi to fully fledged consulates.
This enraged the paper tiger federal government in Mogadishu, which never recognized Somaliland after the region broke away in 1991 as upheaval after upheaval savaged Mogadishu Somalia. The Federal Government is propped up by AU / UN forces and largely seen as unable to keep the peace themselves should these forces withdraw, which would leave the country again to Al Shabab militias to return to power.
Kenya has a large troop contingent in Somalia as part of the AU / UN forces and had entered the country in hot pursuit of Al Shabab terrorists a few years ago following constant cross border attacks by the militants, something the government in Mogadishu was unable to prevent after losing control of much of its territory to the terror group.
The Mogadishu government has for long been at odds with Kenya, despite their desperate need for cooperation and support, over maritime borderlines between the two countries, which were established on independence. Somalia even fought a losing though never declared war with Kenya in the 1960’s over what was then known as the ‘Northern Territory‘, a region of Kenya which was within the post colonial borders established in 1963.
In contrast has Somaliland had stable, popularly elected governments since going on its own and has steadily made advances towards fuller recognition as a state.
It is understood that flights between Nairobi and Hargeisa will commence on the 21st of March 2021 while it is anticipated that Mogadishu Somalia will pull landing rights for flights from and to Nairobi.
It is unclear if surveillance and targeting missions out of a US airbase north of Lamu will be equally affected and perhaps prohibited too even though such a move would further weaken the Mogadishu government’s defenses against the militants.