Somalia: transition government showdown with Puntland?

Ostensibly, its only a dispute about fishing rights, but it has far deeper implications. Mohamed Ahmed Iman, director-general of Somalia’s Ministry of Fisheries, has publcily dismissed as invalid ongoing talks between the governments of Yemen and Somalia’s autonomous enclave of Puntland, protesting that he only became aware of the negotiations on fishing rights through the media. “We [Fisheries Ministry] knew nothing of this [Yemen-Puntland] deal regarding fishing rights and naval protection of the Somali coast,” Iman said at a press conference in Mogadishu. “Any agreement that does not go through the Somali federal government will not be legal,” Iman said, asserting that only the Federal Transition Government has authority sign agreements with foreign governments and companies.

Puntland’s Minister of Fishing and Marine Resources, Said Mohamed Rage, traveled to Yemen last month to sign a deal on fishing rights off of Somalia’s northern coast. Rage’s ongoing trip to Sana was preceded by a weeklong visit to Puntland by a Yemeni delegation led by that country’s ambassador to Somalia, Hamid Ahmed Omar.

Last year, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi opposed a natural resources exploration agreement that Puntland’s President Adde Muse signed with an Australian firm. (Garowe Online, July 3)

Perhaps the TFG leaders are sensitive about Somalia’s recent top ranking on the Failed States Index. They are also doubtless concerned about recebt indications that Puntland is becoming a beachhead for Islamist insurgents.

See our last posts on Somalia, Yemen and the struggle for the Horn.