Somalia received Saudi aid the day it cut ties with Iran: document
NAIROBI – Somalia received a pledge of aid for $50 million from Saudi Arabia this month on the same day it announced it was cutting ties with Saudi rival Iran, a document seen by Reuters showed.
The government, which did not confirm or deny the pledge, has said there was no link between long-running Saudi financial support and its diplomatic decision to break ties with Iran. The Saudi Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
But diplomats said it was the latest sign of patronage used by the kingdom to shore up regional support against Iran, a rivalry that deepened this month when Sunni majority Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric and Iranian protesters responded by torching the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
“The Saudis currently manage to rally countries behind them both on financial grounds and the argument of non-interference,” a diplomat said, referring to what Sunni-majority countries see as Iran’s habit of cultivating ties to their Shi’ite minorities.
A document from the Saudi embassy in Nairobi to the Somali embassy in the Kenyan capital showed the kingdom pledging $20 million in budget support and another $30 million for investment in Somalia, a nation trying to rebuild after two decades of war.
The two grants would come from the Saudi Development Fund, according to the document that was dated Jan. 7, the same day Somalia cut ties with Tehran.