Qatar Deputy Spy chief secretly visits Somalia in a move to have a firm grip on the horn of Africa state
Qatar Deputy Spy chief has paid a secret visit to Somalia in a move seen to solidify the influence of the gulf state locally. Abdalla Mohamed Mubaarak Saalax Al-Khalifi is said to have met the local spy chief Fahad Yasin in Mogadishu. Security in the capital was beefed during the visit. Qatar has been having a growing influence in Somalia through supporting Somalia intelligence and building infrastructure. Qatar’s plans to construct a port in the Somali town of Hobyo .Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communication Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti stated on Aug. 19, “The port will achieve multiple economic benefits for Somalia in terms of investment returns and major business opportunities that the port will offer by bolstering the commercial relationship with new markets in Africa and access to global markets, in addition to providing maritime services to vast areas in Somalia.” This comes amid other Qatar-Somalia developments, particularly as Qatar in July transported 12 terror attack victims from Somalia to a hospital in Doha while Qatar Airways in the same month commenced operations in Mogadishu. Lolwah al-Khater, spokesperson for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Al-Monitor publication , “As for Somalia in particular, we reaffirm Qatar's commitment to supporting the nation as it works relentlessly to fulfill its peoples' hopes and aspirations, and we look forward to continuing to further and deepen cooperation on trade, development and other sectors,” Khater added. Doha previously played a limited role in the region, focusing on economic development; that role has gradually expanded, and it looks set to develop even further. Qatar initially committed peacekeeping forces to Somalia and on the Eritrea-Djibouti border in 2010 during a dispute over border territory following a 2008 conflict over boundaries, which Qatar also mediated. After Somalia refused to support Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain’s blockade on Qatar, the UAE particularly became angry and cut ties with Somalia, also ending its humanitarian and security projects in 2018.