Qatar's special envoy on a mission to Mogadishu to strengthen al-Shabab

Qatar’s special envoy on a mission to Mogadishu to strengthen al-Shabab

Qatari special envoy from the office of the Foreign Minister, Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, arrived Saturday in Somalia officially to engage with the country’s political rivals in what could be a turning point in tack for the Gulf country that has been siding with President Mohamed Farmaajo. Al-Qahtani is well known in Doha and Washington for helping to steer negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghani government which would allow US forces to depart, leaving the Country into the hands of the Taliban. Likewise, international observers believe that Qatar’s goal in sending Al-Qahtani to Mogadishu is to strengthen relations with the terrorist group Al-Shabab, further destabilizing Somalia.

Confirming this is the fact that the special envoy from Qatar transited through Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, meeting its President Muse Bihi Abdi, although neither Somalia nor the international community recognizes the existence of this state. Doha is doing everything to legitimize the Republic of Somaliland to further weaken the Somali government and spread chaos in the region to pursue its economic and strategic interests. In this regard, it should be remembered that Somalia has already expressed its refusal to participate in the foreign relations between two African states.

According to statements released by Somaliland, President Bihi discussed the establishment of bilateral ties with Al-Qahtani and the opening of an official Qatari diplomatic mission on its territory. In addition, the two sides debated on a plan by Qatar Charity to also open an office in Somaliland. The charitable organization is suspected of supporting terrorist operations in several countries where it is active, such as in Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, the Qatar Charity is present in the Gaza Strip, in those areas controlled by Hamas and Hezbollah.

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Qatar’s Ambassador to Somalia, Hassan bin Hamza Hashem, is part of the Qatari delegation that was in Somaliland. The New York Times had already revealed in July 2019 the involvement of the Qatari diplomat in two suicide attacks carried out by Al-Shabab in Mogadishu, publishing the audio recording in which Mr. Al-Mahanadi, a businessman close to the emir, Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, stated: “Our friends were behind the last bombings,” referring to the terrorist group.

According to local media reports, upon arrival in Mogadishu, Al-Qahtani met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at Villa Somalia. The Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) also attended the meeting. The security agency is already known for its infiltrations and contacts with local terrorist groups. In 2016, a court convicted Abdiweli Mohamed Maow, the head of Mogadishu airport security, for helping to smuggle a laptop computer bomb onto an outbound flight. The bomb exploded 15 minutes after its departure but miraculously failed to bring down the plane, which safely returned to the Mogadishu airport. According to “VOA news,” a NISA top official, Abdisalam Mohamed Hassan, was found guilty in 2014 of providing photos of agents and other identifying data to al-Shabab in exchange for money.

General Abdirahman Mohamed Turyare, a former director of NISA, confirmed that constant changes in security agency positions have made it hard to counter the al-Shabab moles in the Government. Doha would be facilitating this. While on the one hand, Qatar claims to support the elections in Somalia, at the same time, its envoy flirts with terrorist groups so that there are no necessary conditions for voting. An interference denounced by civil society and by the opponents of Farmajo, historic-ally of Qatar, within the country and abroad.