Somalia’s federal government has interfered with the on-going diplomatic row between the Swedish government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The row between the two countries emerged after Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticized the record of human rights in the Kingdom.
A statement from the Somalia’s foreign ministry released on Tuesday evening, stated that it ‘’condemns’’ the comments of the Swedish Foreign minister and violates diplomatic conventions and International law.
‘’This behavior is clearly prohibited by the diplomatic norms and practices but also international law that governs the relationship between sovereign states. The foremost important aspect is the respect for sovereign nations to choose their mode of governance and systems without the interference by external parties,’’ the statement read.
The comment caused Saudi Arabia to immediately recall its ambassador from Stockholm and blocked a speech due to be given by Wallstrom to the League of Arab States conference in Egypt. The Swedish government went on to cancel a long-standing defence cooperation agreement with the kingdom.
Millions of Somalis fled the country after the Central government led by former President Siyad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Most went to neighbouring African countries but large numbers sought sanctuary in Europe and America.
Sweden is one of the European countries that hold largest numbers of Somali immigrants who have been granted citizenship and enjoy other sorts of human rights.
Some Somalis who fled to Saudi Arabia in seek for refuge and work have faced abuses such as rape, exploitation, under-or unpaid, physically abused, overworked and locked in their places of employment. Human rights activists have described these conditions as “near-slavery”and attributes them to “deeply rooted gender, religious, and racial discrimination”.
Many of them have been forcibly deported back to the country while still violence going on in some parts. [ Read: Saudi Arabia: 12,000 Somalis Expelled]
The Swedish government increased its presence in Somalia by being involved in humanitarian assistance. In 2012, the total assistance to the war-ravaged to the country amounted $41 million USD and appointed a new ambassador. While the Saudi government has not had a significant role in the country’s efforts towards development and stability.
In 2013, the Swedish Government decided on a new results strategy for Somalia 2013-2017. The main areas in the strategy are; human security and livelihood, health and gender equality, and democracy and human rights.
Commentators and analysts have described the Somalia’s current government foreign policy as ‘’ weak’’ and ‘’unprofessional’’. The new statement from the Somali government has left many Somalis (including those ones residing in Sweden) wondering with the government’s poor strategy of International affairs.
Last year, the Ministry similarly issued a Press release in which it criticized Russian government’s invasion in Ukraine state of Crimea and claimed that it was ready to solve the crisis, with many challenges facing the government including security, reconciliation and reconstruction of a country that is recovering from over two decades of civil war.
While many Somalis living inside and abroad took on to social networks to clearly criticise the Somali Ministry of Foreign affairs’ interference on the spat between Sweden and Saudi Arabia, others called for the Somali President and Prime Minister to publicly apologise or retract the statement to save the country’s evolving foreign policy in the international arena.