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Djibouti FM denies Fahad Yasin was detained, says plane made u-turn to Istanbul

Friday September 17, 2021

Mogadishu (HOL) - Djibouti's Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf released a statement on Friday denying any involvement in the alleged detainment of embattled former National Security Agency chief Fahad Yassin at a Djibouti City airport.

"There are [sic] fake news released in social media trying to create confusion and drag Djibouti into Somalia [sic] internal challenges and crisis. We will continue to stand by our brothers and sisters in Somalia but never interfere in their internal affairs ."

The FM confirmed that the Turkish Airlines flight bound for Mogadishu was forced to make a u-turn to Istanbul with all its passengers.

Youssouf said that, according to Turkish Airlines, the plane was diverted due to technical issues.

Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service, shows that Turkish Airlines Flight 687 is en route back to Istanbul.

"The today's [sic] Turkish Airlines flight scheduled to Mogadishu did not take off from Djibouti due to technical problems according to the company ( one of the pilots did it have the special autorisation [sic] to land in Mogadishu."

Somalia's President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, accused Djibouti on Friday of illegally detaining his new national security adviser and close ally.

"The Federal Republic of Somalia condemns unlawful detention of National Security Adviser to HE Mohamed Farmaajo, by the Djibouti authority at the Djibouti airport. Such acts will not help strengthen our ties between our governments," Farmaajo's spokesman, Abdirashid M Hashi, said on Twitter.

The statement added that Fahad Yasin was traveling to Mogadishu to attend the National Security Conference which is scheduled for Saturday.

HOL spoke with a high-level source within Somalia's Ministry of Transport and Aviation. They said that the Ministry did not instruct Djibouti officials to detain Yasin or block the Turkish plane from landing in Mogadishu.

The source appeared to agree with the Djibouti FM's contention that a technical glitch- possibly a sick pilot - may have prevented the plane from continuing its journey from Djibouti to Mogadishu.

The President's comments risk widening the current political standoff between Somalia's most powerful leaders into a regional debacle.

Fahad Yasin, widely considered one of the most powerful men in Mogadishu, was sacked by Somalia's PM earlier this month for his reluctance to be forthcoming about the disappearance and killing of NISA cyber-security expert Ikran Tahlil Farah. His subsequent dismissal triggered a constitutional crisis in Somalia's national executive, which has threatened the prospect of federal elections and the fragile stability of the Horn of Africa country.

On Thursday, the PM issued his strongest rebuke of President Farmajo since the onset of this latest crisis, accusing the President of illegally holding onto power, obstructing the investigation into Ikran's death, and sabotaging the electoral process.

Djibouti - a multi-ethnic nation dominated by Somalis - has historically been closely linked with Somalia due to its shared ethnic and cultural ties. However, relations have been strained in recent years, mainly because new alliances in East Africa have threatened the region's stability. The Farmajo administration forged close ties with the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea, forming a Tripartite Agreement in the Horn. This new arrangement has left Djibouti, whose ports rely on Ethiopian markets, isolated.

The cracks began to emerge in late January after Somalia rejected the findings of a Djibouti-led investigation into Somalia's allegations that Kenya has been interfering in Somalia's internal affairs. Somali accused Djibouti of being unduly influenced by Kenya and that the report was impartial.


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