Kenya has traditionally adopted a stance of neutrality and non-interference in the affairs of its neighbours, which explains why the country is often picked to play host to talks aimed at finding peace in the region.
Patience at the continued political and security crisis in Somalia, however, appears to be wearing thin. In his state of the nation address on Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed this issue and directly urged foreign powers to stop their campaign aimed at undermining the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, because those efforts have a direct bearing on regional security.
The Gulf powers approach to Somalia is highly irresponsible, short-sighted and selfish. For nearly a year now, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have been playing a high-stakes game aimed at undermining one of their regional rivals, Qatar.
The problem is that the Saudi-UAE bloc has decided to export this sibling rivalry by demanding the support of countries far and wide in a “you-are-either-with-us-or-against-us” approach to diplomacy which many had hoped had been left in the dustbin of history once George W. Bush left power.
The effect in the Horn has been devastating. The Saudi bloc is prosecuting a bloody and costly war in Yemen which has ruined that country and created conditions that will feed instability for years to come.
In Somalia, the Gulf powers, led by the UAE, are taking advantage of state weakness to try and severely undercut the government of President Farmajo.
They have sealed deals for port management and security training with the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland while the Farmajo administration has complained that millions of dollars are being spent to buy the support of rival political players. A training camp for security officials was suddenly closed in the last few weeks without prior arrangement and weapons looted.
This is an unacceptable state of affairs and leaders in the region are right to take a stand against these actions. Somalia needs all the help it can get and stability in that country will mean better lives for its people and the wider region.
However, it is well past time for the Gulf powers and Muslim brothers of the people of Somalia to take a more enlightened approach to foreign policy and to work to improve institutions and boost security in Somalia, instead of fomenting unending instability.