UAE stops train­ing So­ma­lia’s mil­i­tary af­ter cash seizure

Troops con­fis­cated $9.6m from UAE plane at air­port, as­saulted UAE sol­diers

Gulf News - - Middle East -

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.

Trained thou­sands

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.

War­lordism

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.

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