(25-03-23) Mogadishu – The appointment of Jihan Hassan Sheikh as the Somali focal person for the UAE has raised concerns in Somalia’s political scene. Jihan has been given full authority to communicate on behalf of Somalia in foreign affairs, defense, and all agreements with the UAE According to sources inside Villa Somalia. Although Jihan does not hold any official political position in the government, she is the daughter of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and has been observed accompanying the president on high-profile overseas meetings.
Critics have questioned Jihan’s qualifications for this significant responsibility, particularly given her lack of political experience. Some have also suggested that her appointment undermines the role of the Foreign Minister. Additionally, concerns have been raised about potential conflicts of interest, given Jihan’s familial ties to the Somali president.
The UAE’s military influence in Somalia has also raised concerns. This week, the UAE shipped military vehicles to Jubaland and negotiated to occupy two islands off Kismayo’s coast. Some suspect that the president’s family may be benefiting financially from the deal with the UAE, further raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.
President Mohamud has prioritized mending diplomatic relations with the UAE since his second term began last year. He has visited the country three times and signed a military and security pact with the UAE. As Jihan takes on her new role, many in Somalia will be watching closely to see if it leads to positive changes in the country’s relationship with the UAE, particularly with regards to military influence and potential conflicts of interest.