Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo sacked his National Security Advisor General Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed and replaced him with Abdi Said Muse Ali, a relative of Chief of Staff of Villa Somalia Fahad Yasin and an adviser to the European Union (EU) in Somalia. The appointment pushed for by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre and Fahad Yasin raised significant national security, counterintelligence, and nepotism concerns, according to current and former Somali security officials.
Mr. Ali is the half brother of Fahad Yasin’s wife. He has neither military background nor national security experience and allegedly worked recently as a source for the British Intelligence (MI6), and EU reporting on Kheyre and Fahad Yasin activities to the British. He previously worked as a source for the Kenyan and Ethiopian intelligence, collecting information on Somali officials and community in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The appointment comes at a time of political and security turmoil for Farmaajo and Kheyre, as well as concerns by the international partners that the government full of Fahad Yasin loyalists is stumbling and failing to meet their lofty goals and expectations.
Farmaajo’s Failure to Launch
President Farmaajo is failing to grasp the role and the leadership required for the presidency. To all accounts, he is still in a campaign mode when he needs to be governing, according to western and Somali government officials who routinely interact with the president. These officials, including senior diplomats call him a political novice, despite his previous and short experience as a prime minister.
Western and African Union diplomats who also routinely interact with Farmaajo see him unprepared, erratic, and naïve president consumed with protecting his campaign image and failing to grasp the growing security challenges his government faces. For example, in the aftermath of the Zobe attack, Farmaajo behavior raised serious concerns with Western and African Union officials, after he requested their support to move to Afgoye to lead the war against Al-Shabaab.
After he was advised against the move, he requested to move to Baledogle. These and many other odd behaviors have begun to worry many partners who want to support him and see him honest but also see him increasingly overwhelmed and acting in odd ways. As a result, international partners are concerned that Farmaajo weakness has empowered the president’s Chief of Staff Fahad Yasin as the de facto president.
Kheyre Narcissism and Fake Bluster
More than 10 months after taking charge, Kheyre who the many international partners have called arrogant, ignorant, condescending, self serving and know it all has achieved little, and has been labeled as “all talk” by international partners, according sources.
During the recent security conference in Mogadishu, international partners were frustrated with the poor state of affairs in Somalia, and specially Kheyre’s failure to meet all the previous commitments he made.
In addition, international and regional partners were underwhelmed with Kheyre failure and propensity to exaggerate his accomplishments, indicating to him that they have more information Fahad Yasin’s political interference with the regional states, increasing corruption, and nepotism.
Fahad Yasin’s Shadow Presidency
Fahad Yasin is running a shadow government loyal to him and Qatar that is undermining Farmaajo and Kheyre, according to reports. Mr. Yasin since the election has accumulated significant power and control over the Farmaajo and Kheyre, using tens of million of dollars of Qatari funds to keep at bay members of the federal parliaments, including $3,000 – $5,000 monthly bribes to loyal members of the federal parliament.
Mr. Yasin regularly meets with members of the parliaments at his office, were they receive payments from slush fund he controls. Mr. Yasin has used the Qatari funds to finance security operations against opposition political figures, paying NISA leaders millions of dollars ever month to remain loyal to him.
Mr. Yasin’s growing accumulation of power and influence has led to many political and security problems for Farmaajo and Kheyre. He used western trained and funded National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) units to challenge the authorities in Hirshabelle and Galmudug. He has also used NISA to intimidate and target opposition political figures including members of the federal and regional parliament.
Recently, Mr. Yasin used NISA to target Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, a well-known political leader, raising serious concerns with western diplomats who support NISA to combat Al-Shabaab. NISA’s use in political activities exposes Farmaajo, who is an American and Kheyre, who is Norwegian to potential human rights violation cases in the International Criminal Court, according to western legal experts.
Fool Me Once
Farmaajo defers to Fahad Yasin in all government appointments. The international partners, including the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea have alleged favoritism and patronage often prevail over merit and ability in all Farmaajo and Kheyre appointments. They include the current appointment of National Security Adviser who is half brother of Fahad Yasin’s wife. In all more than dozen relatives and close associates of Kheyre and Mr. Yasin were appointed to senior government positions, including Ministers, Deputy Ministers, State Ministers and diplomatic appointments undermining the guarantees of equality for all Somali citizens.
Kheyre and Mr. Yasin prefer to appoint less competent friends, close relatives and loyalist to senior positions to more competent citizens. The practice has become a major concern, because Somalia is considered as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
The appointment of Abdi Muse Said Ali as the National Security Adviser raises concerns of nepotism and shows backroom deals that favor relatives of Fahad Yasin.
Farmaajo is repeating the mistake he made in the selection of Hussain Moalim Mohamud, the former National Security Advisor who was sacked in July for his close ties to the British Intelligence (MI6). Mr. Moalim who is Murursade is a relative of Farmaajo’s wife who is Murursade and Prime Minister Kheyre.
Farmaajo government was warned that Moalim was selling state secrets and allowing MI6 to influence Somali security policies, including drafting of critical policy documents, agreements, and London communiqué that were adopted in May. These documents and agreements committed Somalia to security and development programs funded by the International Partners and controlled by the British and the United Nations.
As a result of these agreements, the size and capabilities of the Somali National Defense Forces were significantly limited, weakening Somalia security and leaving our sea and coasts unprotected.
In conclusion, the shame is on Farmaajo if he is fooled again. Farmaajo should reconsider the appointment Mr. Abdi Muse Ali appointment as the National Security Advisor, and find qualified nationals whose loyalty is not questioned nor in doubt and will fight for and protect the interests, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Somalia.
Ahmed Ibrahim, Ph.D