Somalia Foreign Relations

By | December 15, 2021

Relations with the Arabian Peninsula. – From the Arabian Peninsula, groups of emigrants have arrived in Somalia at all times, who have settled along the coast where they arrived and arrive, along the navigation line that the natural conditions of monsoons and ocean currents create from the Persian Gulf to Zanzibar. It is probable that, already in the pre-Islamic period, on the coast of northern Somalia there were some South Arabian colony, as it seems we can deduce from some clues. And it has been assumed that at least part of that Arab migration which later gave rise to the Harari and Gurāacao groups left from the Somali coast of the Gulf of Aden to the Harar region.

In the Islamic era it is ascertained that the main coastal centers of present-day Italian Somalia arose as Arab colonies. Mogadishu, in a period that can roughly be fixed from 900 to 1250 AD. C., lived as an Arab trading colony and one of the main groups that populated it came from the region of al-Aḥsā on the Persian Gulf, it seems because of the struggles that gave place there the prevalence of the heresy of the Qarmaṭi.

The Arab tribes of Mogadishu had their own elective leaders and they did not assume their present Somali names until a few centuries later. The first document known to us in which the Somali names of the people of Mogadishu are used, instead of the Arab ones, dates back to 1573. For Somalia 2010, please check

This federation of Arab tribes turned into an Arab-Somali sultanate around 1250, but Arab influence and migrations from both Ḥadramūt and Yemen have continued in Mogadishu to this day.

Similarly Merca and Brava arose as Arab colonies and the three aforementioned cities retain a series of medieval Arab inscriptions recently published in Italy.

Relations with Persia. – There is a current tradition on the East African coast that of Persian emigrations to Somalia and the present-day Colony of Kenya. The tradition especially recalls the Shirāzī principles, originating therefore, as their name implies, of the Persian city of Shīrāz.

This tradition, as far as Italian Somalia is concerned, was verified by the discovery made in Mogadishu of two inscriptions: a funerary one from 1217 which refers to a Persian from Naysābūr, and one in the Arba-‛rukun mosque from 1268, which refers precisely to to a Persian from Shīrāz.

The contacts between Mogadishu and southern Persia continued for a long time, so much so that, still in a document of Mogadishu of 1768, the Persian numerals have been found recorded.

Relations with India. – Today the Indian colonization in East Africa, of an exclusively commercial nature, has created very intense economic relations between Somalia and India, particularly with the Caraci and Bombay regions. Indian communities exist in the various regions of Somalia and gugerati is commonly used by them as a spoken language. Similarly, during the period of Arab colonization in the Middle Ages, Somalia already had relations with India, so that, for example, Arab geographers Al Dimašqī and Ibn Baṭṭūta have preserved evidence of a trade current linking Mogadishu with India through a general store in the Laccadive Islands. These relationships were so important in the stories of Arab navigators that the cartographer of the Venetian republic, Fra Mauro of the monastery of Somalia Michele in Murano, in his famous Globe from the second half of the 15th century places Mogadishu and other Somali countries on the same island of Diabcheb.

Relations with Ethiopia. – Somali populations, when they appear in history during the Middle Ages, that is, during the reign of the Negus Yesḥaq in the century. XV, are made up of Bedouins who live on the margins of the Ethiopian Christian state and of the small Muslim states of the South Ethiopian, often taking advantage of the struggles between Christians and Muslims to carry out raids and pillages against both sides.

The Somalis then approach mainly the Muslim state and during the invasion of the Mancino Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm in Ethiopia, they constitute one of the main sources of his troops, so much so that today the Somali tradition attributes to the Mancino the origin of the Somali tribe of the Gheri and to the his successor, the Emir Nūr, the origin of the Somali tribe of the Marrēḥān.

Subsequently, in the sec. XVI, the invasion galla separated the Somalis from Christian Abyssinia, and the weakness of the Muslim state of Harar had as a consequence the Somali occupation of Zeila and of the whole coast through which the commercial exchanges of the Harar already passed.

It can be said that relations with Christian Ethiopia were not resumed until the middle of the century. XIX, when the negus Menelik II, conquered Harar in 1887, pushed the troops of Ras Makonnen against the Somali Ogadēn, who had already accepted the Italian protectorate. In this way, from 1891-94 until 1936, a part of Somalia was, for the first time in its history, subjected to the negus.

Relations with Italy. – Somalia’s relations with Italy could be said to have started already in the 10th century. XIV, with the famous journey of the Genoese Sorleone Vivaldi, who, according to the testimony of the anonymous Spanish author of the Libro del conocimiento, left in search of his brothers lost along the coast of West Africa, would have reached Magdasor, which was identified with Mogadishu, and from there he would have tried in vain to obtain permission to reach the country of Prete Gianni, that is the Ethiopian plateau.

This possibility of communicating with Ethiopia departing from the Somali coast was later to have, at the beginning of the 16th century, the Venetian Alessandro Zorzi gather information on the valleys that lead from Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean; and only a century later, another Venetian, Vincenzo Contarini, who had arrived from Cairo through Ethiopia on the edge of the Caffa, asked in vain from the head of the Ennaria for permission to cross the Caffa to reach the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Moreover, this ancient aspiration of Italian travelers led the Sardinian government, during the ministry of the Count of Cavour, to agree in 1858 with Monsignor Massaia the sending to Brava of a Savoyard missionary, Father Leone Des Avanchers, with the task of groped to reach the Sidama towns and especially Caffa from Brava, to connect with the Somali coast the missions that Monsignor Massaia had established there, proceeding from the north (see ethiopia: Storia; leone des avanchers).

Somalia Foreign Relations