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Kenya-Somalia Maritime Dispute: Who Owns the Oil Beneath the Indian Ocean?

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A maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya has sparked diplomatic crisis between the two east African countries, a move that could threaten stability in the region and dwindle the fight against al Shabab.

The two neighbours are engaged in a border dispute in the Indian Ocean, a 100 square kilometres triangle rich in oil and gas. Kenya has accused Somalia of auctioning part of its oil blocks in the Indian Ocean to Western oil firms during an oil conference in London in February. Somalia denied Kenya’s allegations, and said the conference was meant to present the results of seismic surveys and showcase possible locations in the country where oil reserves can be extracted in the future. After the London event, Kenya ordered Somalia’s ambassador in Nairobi to leave the country and recalled its ambassador in Mogadishu.

Both Somalia and Kenya claim ownership of the 100km2 area in the Indian Ocean. In 2014, Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Nairobi of encroaching part of its territory. Kenya tried to persuade Somalia to withdraw the case from the ICJ and settle the dispute of the court, but Somalia rejected Kenya’s plea.

Somalia wants the maritime boundary to run southeast as an extension of the land border while Kenya says the border should run eastwards following the line of latitude. The ICJ is expected to deliver a judgment later this year.

If Somalia wins the ICJ ruling, Kenya will respect the ruling but will maintain its hostile actions until something happens to restore its dented ego like a negotiated truce by another country.

Kenya is likely to appeal the ruling for various reasons including the fact that both countries need to have agreed to refer the matter to ICJ, but Somalia went it alone. If Kenya wins, which is unlikely, Somalia will likely welcome the judgement.

The case was to be heard in September initially, but was postponed to November following a request by Kenya. The ICJ may also review another request made by Kenya for a 12-month delay of the public hearing. Last week, Kenya’s Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki asked the court to grant a year’s postponement, which Nairobi thinks would be sufficient time to prepare. Somalia has always opposed to the postponement.

 

In May, ties between the two deteriorated after Kenya suspended direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi, and ordered all flights from Somalia to land at Wajir Airport in northeast of the country for security checks before heading to Nairobi, and denied Somali government officials entry into the country after arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The officials were due to attend a European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management summit.

The Somali representatives were holding diplomatic passports, and were expecting a visa on arrival. But Kenya said they must get visas from its embassy in Mogadishu.

Somalia retaliated by banning government officials from participating any meeting held in Kenya and ordered Non-Governmental Organisations that operate in Somalia but based in Nairobi to relocate to Mogadishu.

Most UN and Western organisations including humanitarian agencies operating in the Horn of Africa nation are based in Nairobi.

The dispute between Somalia and Kenya could scale down security cooperation and the fights against terrorism.

The diplomatic crisis could jeopardise the security cooperation between Kenya and Somalia which will be a big boon for al-Shabab, which is a pain in the neck for both countries. Mogadishu and Nairobi can ill afford to take their eyes off the ball – Al- Shabab, their common enemy, and waste their energy on resolvable diplomatic disputes.

Somalia is battling al-Shabab, a terror group affiliated to al-Qaeda, which wants to overthrow the internationally-backed government and impose its own interpretation of Islamic sharia.

The group has been driven out of major towns including the capital, Mogadishu, but it still has the ability to conduct high profile attacks in Somalia and beyond, Kenya being the most vulnerable. This year, al- Shabab conducted a number of attacks inside Kenya including an assault on an upmarket hotel in Nairobi in January that killed 21 people, and another in June near the border with Somalia, targeting a police vehicle with a landmine, killing eight police officers.

Kenya has thousands of troops in Somalia under the African Union mission supporting Mogadishu’s fight against al-Shabab.

If the diplomatic row persists, it could affect security operations, slowing down the fight against al-Shabab in southern Somalia where Kenyan troops are based, give rise to nationalist sentiments in both countries, putting Somali refugees and Somali-owned business in Kenya in danger, and al-Shabab may use it as a recruitment tool.

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Politics

Puntland forces block delegation waiting to receive Planning Minister Jamal Hassan in Garowe

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Puntland security forces reportedly under instructions from State President Abdullahi Deni barred a delegation which was to received Federal Planning Minister Jamal Hassan at Garowe Airport Thursday morning.

The minister who was on his way to his constituency in Dhahar, Sanaag region arrived at the airport but without a receiving delegation after his team on the ground was blocked from accessing the airport, sources at the airport said.

After he left the airport, sources said, a confrontation arose between his security team from Dhahar and Puntland forces. The team from Dhahar had come to pick him.

The government forces had reportedly attempted to bar him from leaving for Dhahar but he finally managed to leave.

Jamal, a close ally of President Mohamed Farmaajo does not see eye to eye with Deni whom sources said has attempted to derail his re-election.

Jamal will be seeking to be re-elected by his sub-clan in Dhahar in the upcoming Lower House elections.

Source: Hiiraan and Agencies

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Farmajo names committee of inquiry to investigate disappearance of former spy Ikran Tahlil

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Somali president Mohamed Farmajo has appointing a five-member committee to investigate the disappearance of former spy agent Ikran Tahlil.

“I hereby appoint a five-Member Commission of inquiry Chaired by the Attorney-General and deputized by Head of Military Court to expedite investigations on the case of IKRAN TAHLIL and to hand over the findings and evidence to responsible legal institutions for the execution of Justice.”

In the presidential decree, Farmajo appointed the Attorney-General to lead the fact-finding mission. The Armed Forces Court Attorney General is also a member of the committee. The three committee members will be nominated later by the Somali Police Force Commander, the Commander of the Somali National Army and Col. Yasin Abdulahi Mohamud, his new appointee Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.

The statement added that Ikran’s case was a “sensitive one that needs a thorough investigation.”

Farmajo instructed the commission to submit its investigative reports to the relevant authorities, although there will undoubtedly be demands to make the findings of any report public. There will also likely be apprehension to Somalia’s intelligence agency being a part of the investigation. Many lawmakers have called on an independent inquiry into Ikran’s murder.

Farmajo declared that the decree came into effect immediately after he signed it.

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Politics

Qorqor and Laftagareen try to bring Farmajo and Roble together

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The presidents of Galmudug, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoor Qoor his South West State counterpart and Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen have taken the role of mediators to find a solution the wrangle between President Mohamed Farmajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Roble.

The two  met with Farmajo and Roble separately, and urged both parties to refrain from further action that would escalate the tense situation.

Reports indicate that the president and the prime minister have accepted the mediation, although each has developed conditions attached to the talks.

Prime Minister Roble insisted that Commander Bashir Goobe was the commander of NISA, and President Farmajo emphasized that the steps taken by the Prime Minister were invalid.

The meeting is expected to continue on Friday. The two presidents are hopeful that the two top officials will finally be reconciled so that their differences do not affect the election process.

The intervention comes amidst heightened political tensions between Farmajo and Roble which could threaten the fragile security of the Horn of Africa nation.

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