Somalis should be wary of treason by Somali politicians in sea row with Kenya

Jibril – an international policy professional currently serves as a professor at the Ohio State University in the United States. He earned an undergraduate degree in economics and graduate degrees in public policy and international affairs. Jibril serves as an expert consultant on Somali affairs with governments and international organizations in the Horn of Africa and in the US. He lives with his wife and children in Columbus, Ohio where he is a commissioner on the city’s human rights commission. He can be reached at

Over the past decade, Kenya has done a lot of maneuvering to extend its sea resources at the expense of Somalia. With the help of other powers, Kenya initiated memorandum of understanding with Somalia in 2009. The gist of this MOU was to (i) to show that there was an area of Somalia’s Indian Ocean territory that was in dispute. The MOU states “The delimitation of maritime boundaries in the areas under dispute … shall be agreed between the two coastal States on the basis of international law…and (ii) to give each other consent to submit claims to UNCLOS.  To this effect, the MOU states that Kenya and Somalia will each “make separate submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (herein referred to as “the Commission”), that may include the area under dispute”.  The MOU was nullified by the Somali parliament.  However, Kenya took a number of military and diplomatic steps to grab Somali territorial waters:

  1. Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 with the goal of creating a ‘buffer zone’ in Jubbaland.  Later on, its military joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In addition to seeking to use its military presence inside Somalia as justification for its unbridled sea grabbing, the Kenyan forces worked hard to undermine the Federal Government of Somalia by detaining and humiliating cabinet ministers.Additionally, the United Nations Security Council accused Kenyan forces of environmental crimes and illegal charcoal trade that directly benefits Al Shabaab.

  2. Kenya lobbied for the appointment of Mohamed Ali Guyo as the IGAD envoy for Somalia. In the most recent session of the IGAD ministers held in Djibouti on February 28, 2019, the responsibilities of this Kenyan diplomat were expanded “to include the red sea and the Gulf of Aden.” Kenya has also been recently reelected to the African Union Peace and Security Council and it is a candidate for the African Union Peace and Security Council in 2020.

  3. Collaborating with countries such as Norway, Kenya sought to pressure Somali politicians to proclaim that its territorial waters to extend only 12 nautical miles, contrary to law No. 37 of September 10, 1972, which expressly states Somalia’s territorial sea to extend 200 nautical miles. During this illegal process, the United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia included in its report the expected result of such proclamation:

  4. Building a wall inside Somali territory in order to change the existing boundary in such a way that new border points that favor Kenya’s quest are installed.

  5. Putting pressure on Somalia to withdraw maritime case at the ICJ Kenya expelled Somalia’s ambassador in Nairobi and accused Somalia of auctioning oil blocks in the Indian ocean. Kenya has already issued exploration licenses in the area before the International Court of Justice to various oil companies.

 Once Somalia adopts the EEZ under the UNCLOS regime, Somalia and Kenya would be required to initiate a separate process to negotiate a mutually acceptable maritime boundary. This would open the possibility of an adjustment of the maritime boundary from its perpendicular position towards a position following the line of latitude.

While Kenya is busy annexing parts of Somalia by building walls inside Somali territory and claiming Somalia’s territorial waters as its own, successive Somali governments have preferred to pursue deals with international opportunists instead of defending Somali sovereignty to the hilt, for the benefit of the nation’s security in the diplomatic, naval, economic, and environmental arenas. In fact, Somali both past politicians who signed the MOU with Kenya and current politicians have proven to be Kenyan puppets. For example, reliable sources confirmed that the proposal to include the Somali sea geopolitics to the responsibilities of Mr. Guyo, who is a senior Kenyan security officer was sponsored by none other than Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry.  Somalia also promised to support Kenya over Djibouti in their bid to join the UN Security Council in 2020.

Given these trends, Somalis should be alarmed by the prospect of Somalia losing part of its territory due to the treasonous dealings of corrupt Somali politicians. The Somali people should be wary of the activities of corrupt, unaccountable politicians and take notice of the enormous ramifications for the future of the Somali state and its people of this case. We should all be untitled to defend our resources from foreign predators and their treasonous local collaborators. And once a government that enjoys full legitimacy is restored, we should conduct a comprehensive review of all the agreements, proclamations and deals that were signed under a transitional/provisional constitutional authority at a time when Somalia was the most corrupt country in the world.