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Somalian Government Ignores Regions’ Stand In Gulf Crisis

Photo: Al Jazeera

Somalia’s government has disapproved its semi-autonomous regions for cutting ties with Qatar and said it was determined to stay neutral in the Gulf dispute.

The region of Galmudug expressed its support with the UAE and Saudi Arabia after similar declarations by the regions of Puntland and Hirshabelle.

Somalia’s federal government responded on Thursday by saying only it had the authority to speak on foreign affairs.

The strategically located Somalia’s stand is vital for Qatar as the airspace of Somalia remains open for Qatar Airways, a critical lifeline amid the blockade.

Arab Gulf states have meanwhile been pouring resources into the semi-autonomous regions.

“[The Arab states] are trying to give more energy and emphasise more their relations with these regional governments, trying to pressure them to go against the federal government,” said Nairobi-based Somalia expert Ahmed Roble.

Somalia’s closeness to Turkey also plays a role, as Turkey is backing Qatar in the dispute.

Turkey has poured in more than $1bn in aid since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Somalia in 2011 and is expected to open a military base in the capital Mogadishu this month.

“The cabinet reaffirms the federal government’s decision in June … that Somalia is neutral about the conflict of Gulf countries,” read a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

The statement called on “the conflict be solved brotherly, peacefully and diplomatically”.

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