Ten­sions es­ca­late af­ter UAE ends Somalia mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sion

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional -

TEN­SIONS be­tween Somalia and the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) ratch­eted up af­ter the UAE said it will end its mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sion to Somalia. The move fol­lowed Mo­gadishu’s de­ci­sion to ditch a mil­i­tary deal with its ally and seized mil­lions of dol­lars in cash from an Emi­rati plane last week.

“The UAE has de­cided to dis­band its mil­i­tary train­ing pro­gram in Somalia which started in 2014 to build the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the So­mali army,” said the state­ment on the UAE’s state news agency WAM, ac­cord­ing to Reuters. About $9.6 mil­lion in cash was taken from the UAE plane on April 8, So­mali po­lice and gov- ern­ment sources had said. The UAE said the money was to pay for salaries for So­mali sol­diers as part of an agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries. The state­ment said a seizure in­ci­dent con­tra­vened agree­ments signed by both coun­tries.

WAM said the UAE has been pay­ing the wages of 2,407 sol­diers in ad­di­tion to build­ing train­ing cen­ters and a hos­pi­tal. It said the UAE is su­per­vis­ing a coun­ter­piracy mar­itime po­lice force in Somalia’s semi-au­tonomous re­gion of Punt­land.

Diplo­matic ten­sions first spilled into the open in March af­ter the Dubai-based DP World gave Ethiopia a 19-per­cent stake in the Ber­bera port in break­away So­ma­liland - whose in­de­pen­dence is not rec­og­nized by Mo­gadishu. Law­mak­ers in Somalia, which also has a his­tory of an­i­mos­ity with Ethiopia, adopted a res­o­lu­tion ac­cus­ing the com­pany of hav­ing “in­ten­tion­ally vi­o­lated the sovereignty of Somalia.” Tem­pers have also flared over a mil­i­tary base be­ing built by the UAE in So­ma­liland.

The es­ca­la­tion came af­ter months of build­ing fric­tion in Somalia as the Gulf cri­sis pit­ting Arab pow­ers against each other spills over into the frag­ile state, whose po­si­tion of neu­tral­ity has not gone down well at home or with its al­lies.

The 10-month Gulf cri­sis pits Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain against Qatar, which has been ac­cused by its ri­vals of fos­ter­ing close links with Tehran and sup­port­ing Is­lamist ex­trem­ists. Qatar de­nies the charges.

With close geo­graphic, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural ties with the Gulf, ob­servers warn the Horn of Africa is fac­ing height­ened in­sta­bil­ity as coun­tries come under pres­sure to pick sides, while Arab pow­ers jockey for po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

Somalia has not had an ef­fec­tive cen­tral gov­ern­ment since the 1991 over­throw of Pres­i­dent Siad Barre’s mil­i­tary regime that ush­ered in decades of an­ar­chy and con­flict.

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