Dr. Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh —As a proud Somali, it has been quite an honour to have been provided with the opportunity to represent my nation on the international stage for the last 12 months. Indeed, serving ones nation at such a high level, is an honour and a privilege bestowed only on a few people and, hence, the burden of responsibility is even greater than one can ever imagine.
Somalia is a proud nation of homogeneous and talented people, in a wonderfully diverse part of Africa. However, Somalia has experienced one of the worst and prolonged civil wars in modern history. The disastrous civil war destroyed all our key institutions, terribly disrupted lives and scattered our population across the world as refugees and vagabonds. Somalia, for a long time, has been labelled, not a less developed country, not as a fragile country but indeed, as a failed state synonymous with violence and self-destruction. I am sure most of you heard or read the expressions: “Somalisation of country X is taking place” when a country is in a total mess and broken into pieces.
Today, Somalia is slowly but surely regaining consciousness. The environment in most parts of the country is, indeed, inspirational. People are, once again, queuing up for passports, driving licences and marriage certificates. People are enrolling in schools in unmatched numbers and almost everyone you speak to is preparing to invest for tomorrow in their own special ways. The Diaspora are returning with their knowledge, wealth and expertise to invest in their nation and people and foreign investors are once again asking about opportunities in Somalia. The cranes in the Mogadishu skyline, busy markets and trading centres are all evidence of success and the growing confidence within ourselves and the future underlined by the improving security.
The Somali people are very clear in their determination to, never again, return to war or allow anybody else to lead them in that direction. Long and painstaking political negotiations frustrate you at times here in Mogadishu and elsewhere. But these are talks and not guns, and more times than not, agreements are reached after days, weeks or perhaps months of talking. This is much better than before, when guns roared mercilessly after a few minutes of a disagreement on any issue. This determination and hope are what drive us all to work tirelessly towards achieving the key goals of security, stability and inevitably, inclusive political, social and economic progress. Indeed, it is only the accomplishment of these goals that will allow us all to have an effective internal and Foreign Policies.
Foreign Policy is in essence, built on a coherent and well calibrated internal policy, good governance and stability at home. We are finally coming to grips with this reality and our government’s efforts are firmly focused on achieving our Vision 2016 goals which are centred on inclusive politics, security and the formation of a Federal Democratic State. The achievement of any of these goals are not without challenges at this point in time in our history and given the short space of time we have to achieve them. However, we understand today more than any time in the last 25 years, that we have no choice but to forge ahead and conclude the historical process of re-establishing a fully functioning and effective Somali Federal state for the benefit of all our people.
In 30 years in development work in Africa, I have witnessed other African countries experience political, social and economic difficulties as a result of civil wars. Most of them have since recovered and, in our effort to come back to life, we do not need to re-invent the wheel. Indeed, Somalia is luckier than many nations in Africa due to its vast and untapped and unutilized resources at sea and in land. Flying towards Mogadishu, if one simply glimpses out of the aeroplane window, and down towards our vast unending beautiful coastline, unrivalled opportunities present themselves in almost every sector including tourism, fisheries and marine resources. This is the hope and potential that I, as a Foreign Minister, proudly present to the world in all international forums. This, coupled with the Somali people’s determined and hospitable spirit as well as their yearning for progress makes my task much easier. The total refusal among Somalis, in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country to give up, and their utter determination to move ahead, provide us with the inspiration and the motivation to remain in the country, fight it out and push ahead.
Of course, Somalia has many great challenges ahead and still remains fragile. The year 2016 is around the corner and there still remains a great amount of things to achieve, but there is the political will to do this driven by our government’s absolute desire to create a functioning and inclusive state.
On the Foreign Policy front, we have endeavoured to reform our embassies so that they become effective operational centres serving the needs of our citizens globally. We have also, through our positive engagement and successes at home, strengthened our bilateral ties with our international partners and donors. Due to improving security and strengthening institutional capacity, foreign investors are lining up to explore Somalia. In addition, Mogadishu hosted the first IGAD Foreign Ministers’ meeting in nearly 30 years, more and more nations are opening their embassies in Somalia and H.E RecepTayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, recently paid our nation a very successful visit. All this is evidence of Somalia, once again, returning to the community of nations as a contributor and valued member.
Wherever I travel, it is amazing to see the confidence and pride with which the Somali flag flies in public. Whether it is on a pole outside the UN building, or on the side of our delegation’s car on the road, our flag is, once again, demanding attention and is happily receiving it from the world.
For Somalia, there are no shortcuts to success in achieving its goals of inclusive politics, security and Federalism. We must all commit ourselves to the slow, painstaking work of doing our bit, on a daily basis, to ensure that our collective goals are achieved.
Together, from Lowyacaddo to Ras Kamboni, we can surely do it. My motto as a person is and has always been Somalia and its people first. Somalia Ha Noolaato.
Finally let me invite you all to listen to one of my songs called Adduun waa isku Lammaane.
Dr. Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh is the acting Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion–Twitter: @BeilehMofa