UAE stops training Somalia’s military after cash seizure
Troops confiscated $9.6m from UAE plane at airport, assaulted UAE soldiers
The UAE has said it will end its military training mission to Somalia after an incident that saw its soldiers assaulted and $9.6 million seized at an airport in Mogadishu.
The announcement by the UAE’s Foreign Ministry marks the latest decision by a Gulf nation that affects East Africa, home to a growing web of Arab military and commercial interests. “The UAE has expressed its denunciation of the seizure incident which flies in the face of diplomatic traditions and ties between world countries and contravenes the agreements signed by both countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The UAE and Somalia are bound by historical relations based on mutual respect and the UAE Forces had carried out a number of training missions for thousands of Somalis to build up their capabilities. In addition, the UAE has been paying the salaries of 2,407 Somali soldiers and built three training centres, a hospital, and dispatched Emirati medical teams for treating Somalis,” a statement by WAM said.
The UAE has been working with an anti-piracy force in the breakaway Puntland region and has paid the salaries of 2,407 Somali soldiers. “The UAE has trained thousands of Somali soldiers in the mission it began in 2014, which both helped the conflict-ravaged nation rebuild after decades of chaos and give Emirati soldiers more experience abroad.”
Tensions between the countries hit a high on April 8, when the UAE said Somali soldiers boarded a UAE airplane at the Mogadishu airport, assaulted its soldiers at gunpoint and confiscated $9.6 million.
Late Sunday night, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it would end its training mission in Somalia. Somali officials did not immediately comment on the UAE’s decision.
Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been strained over the ongoing diplomatic crisis engulfing Qatar.
Dubai’s DP World, the world’s fourth largest port operator, is also operating a major port in Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland.
For a majority of Somalis, their country has been in a state of war ever since they can remember. Full-blown warlordism became the norm in Somalia following the toppling of the military dictatorship of Siad Barre in 1991 by clan-based militias. The warlords carved out fiefdoms across the country. A unity government formed in 2000, which had international backing, was never able to establish full control, and the two comparatively peaceful northern regions – Somaliland and Puntland – broke away, becoming de facto independent states. A new threat – the Al Qaida-aligned Al Shabab militant group – popped up, and the UNbacked African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) began operations in the country in February 2007.
In 2012, a new internationally-backed government was installed, but despite help from US drone strikes and the backing of almost 20,000 AMISOM troops, Al Shabab continues to pose a serious threat.