Somalia’s Prime Minister’s appointment of former Al-Shabaab spokesman Mukhtar Robow as the Minister of Religious Affairs last week has irked the United States, Garowe Online news website reported on Friday.
US administration officials have raised concerns that the move could deny them congressional support in efforts to provide Somali authorities essential assistance vital for its operations against Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.
The US Patriot Act Leahy vetting policy prevents Washington from supporting any government with links to Islamist militant groups. The law will deprive Somalia’s new administration of critical funding and support from the United States.
Citing sources, Garowe Online reported that there are other cabinet members whose naming drew US ire, including some whose past records of corruption and abuse of power had demonized previous administrations.
The cabinet formation has angered Somali regional states, including Puntland, Galmudug, and Southwest. It has also added tinder to an already escalating row between the administrations of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Ethiopia sees Mukhtar Robow whom it had arrested in Baidoa in 2018 as a threat to its national security. In response to his appointment, it has flown Southwest state leader – a Robow antagonist – to Addis Ababa for talks on closer cooperation and efforts to thwart possible attempts by the federal government to oust the belligerent state president.