INTERVIEW DR. ALI SAID FAQI
WardheerNews (WDN): Ambassador Ali Said Faqi, Somalia’s new Ambassador to the EU and Belgium, first welcome to WardheerNews. You hold one of the biggest ambassadorial responsibilities for the Somali nation. Did your appointment to these two positions come to you as a surprise?
Amb. Ali Said Faqi: Yes, indeed it was a complete surprise, unexpected and out of nowhere. However, I should admit that I had interest to join politics one day in my life time, but I have never dreamed of becoming a diplomat; it was something that never crossed my mind. Having said that, I am honored to be the Ambassador of Somalia to the Benelux and the European Union.
WDN: Could you share with us your background?
Amb. Ali: I have a PhD in Toxicology and my research interest is on preclinical drug development with specialty on reproduction and birth defects. Here are some of my highlights:
I am a Senior Director at a private research institute. I also hold an adjunct associate professor at Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
I am a Diplomate of American Board of Toxicology (DABT) and a Fellow of the Academy Toxicological Sciences (ATS). Currently I am an Associate Editor of Reproductive Toxicology Journal and a member of Editorial Board of Open Access Journal of Science and Technology and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). Moreover, I served on the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Computational Toxicology at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) from September 2009 to September 2010.
I am an ad hoc scientific reviewer for several scientific journals including Regulatory Pharmacology and Toxicology, Toxicology Journal, System Biology in Reproductive Medicine, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, PLoS ONE and Birth Defects Research Part B: Developmental & Reproductive Toxicology, and Drug and Chemical Toxicology. Other positions held include a past president of Michigan Society of Toxicology and a past president of Toxicologists of African origin.
I have published over 100 scientific papers and reports. I am an editor of a text book “A Comprehensive Guide to Toxicology in Preclinical Drug Development”, a book published by Elsevier in December 2012 and an author/co-author of 10 book chapters.
WDN: What led you to be involved in politics since you have a science academic background?
Amb Ali: Let us not forget that since early 2000 shortly after I came to the USA, I was an active member of the Somali Diaspora. I joined Pan-Somali Council for Peace and Democracy (Israaca). Here I met several brilliant Somali intellectuals who still remain as my true fiends. In principle Israaca was a great political organization aimed at defending the noble cause of Somalia. Unfortunately, our deeply rooted mistrust and lack of experience has led to the demise of Israaca. Afterwards it is not a secret that I became a strong advocate of the plight of the people in Benadir, Lower Shebelle and Jubba. It is in my blood that I detest human right abuses. My activism has helped shape my political views and I strongly believe Somali unity is the only way forward. Therefore, politics was something I always had in my heart.
Nevertheless, I am much concerned about the current state of the Somali affairs because it is almost impossible to reverse the trend. Besides political wrestling that has constantly paralyzed our nation, there is completely lack of capacity in all institutions. It is not that we don’t have educated people in these institutions; it is the mentality of the people that is devoid of accountability and work ethics.
WDN: WardheerNews has learned that the Somali diplomatic mission residency located in Brussels was in such a great mess since the main administrative building was in a dilapidated condition. Were you able to reverse the ramshackle state of the said building in Brussels, Belgium?
Amb. Ali: First and foremost please allow me to deeply thank the military regime of Somalia for acquiring these two buildings (the Chancery and the Ambassador’s residence) in Brussels, Belgium. These two properties have not been taken care of for the past 23 years. This has resulted in structural damage of large proportion. We initiated renovating the Chancery with loan money and in a few months the Embassy will have few office spaces and a meeting room. The residence is still occupied by a Belgian family, but I expect them to move out before the end of this month. It looks like, however, the damage of the residence building is so deep that it would require demolishing the entire building and replacing it with a newer one. It is in my priority list to rehabilitate these buildings before my tenure time expires.
WDN: As the Somali ambassador to the EU, what are your main responsibilities? And do you oversee other Somali missions within the EU?
Amb. Ali: My responsibility as an ambassador is to represent the government of Somalia in all meetings at EU, ACP, African Union, Arab league, IGAD, and in one-on-one government settings; involve in diplomacy, oversee all of the other diplomats and local staff, enhance the exposure of Somalia, defend the interest of Somalia, and help Somali citizens in need.
No, I don’t oversee other Somali missions in EU besides the ones that I am accredited to.
WDN: The Somali nation is experiencing turbulent times. How do you see European involvement in resuscitating Somalia politically, socially, and economically?
Amb. Ali: Europe Union is pretty much determined in helping Somalia. It is actively involved in all projects aimed at reviving Somalia, whether it is in the security sector, fighting piracy, justice reform, constitutional revision, building federal states institutions, reconciliation, economic development, food security, etc. The European taxpayers are demanding concrete results; they want to see their money well spent for the wellbeing of the people of Somalia. We need to grasp this opportunity and benefit from it.