Somalia president Hassan Sheikh didn't visit Israel, his office insists
MOGADISHU, Somalia - President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud did not visit Israel, Villa Somalia has reaffirmed, following reports that the new leader may have travelled to Israel secretly during his trip to the United Arab Emirates [UAE] last week.
Mohamud, who won the presidency on May 15, made the maiden trip to UAE last week, affirming his desire to work closely with Emiratis, a Gulf country which often differed with former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who had close ties with Qatar.
Throughout Farmajo's tenure, UAE struggled with Somalia, and even at some point, authorities in Mogadishu seized in April 2018 $9.6 million in cash meant for salaries of the Somali National Army [SNA], according to Abu Dhabi.
Farmajo's administration at that time suspected that the UAE was using the excuse to finance the opposition in the country during a political crisis.
Over the weekend, Villa Somalia denied Hassan Sheikh's alleged trip to Israel through UAE. Most Arab countries have no ties with Israel over its atrocities in Gaza City and the West Bank of River Jordan.
Israel is fighting to reclaim the Palestinian territory, a move which has never appeased Arab League nations of which Somalia is one of them. Villa Somalia said there is no day Hassan Sheikh visited Tel Aviv, noting that he strictly adhered to his itinerary at Abu Dhabi.
Abdikarin Ali Kaar, the presidential spokesperson, said such reports were misleading, adding that diplomatic relations with Israel are yet to be established. Hassan Sheikh returned from UAE on Friday and he's now in self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
In his inaugural speech, Hassan Sheikh said he's ready to improve ties with other countries, adding that the time has come for Somalia to tackle internal challenges by working closely with other friendly and sisterly nations across the world.
There were social media reports that Hassan Sheikh may be visiting Kenya, which also had a difficult relationship with former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. During Hassan Sheikh's inauguration, President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Mogadishu and discussed the bilateral ties.