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Saudi Arabia seeks to mediate Somalia and UAE rift

March 13, 2018 at 2:38 pm

Berbera Port in Somaliland [Siphon/Wikipedia]

Saudi Arabia has offered to mediate a rift between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over a Berber Port deal in Somaliland, according to Garowe Online.

Somalia submitted a complaint to the Arab League over a controversial $422 million deal between the UAE port operator DP World, Ethiopia and Somaliland at the Berbera port on the grounds that it was been made without prior consent. Somalia claims that the port deal undermines its unity, sovereignty and its constitution.

Last week Somalia declared the tripartite deal as “null and void”, but parties to the deal have clarified that the agreement has nothing to do with Somalia.

The federal government of Somalia escalated the rift by creating a law to ban UAE port operator DP World; 168 Somali lawmakers have already voted for the law, making it eligible to be sent to the Upper House of Parliament before being ratified by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

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Back in 2016 Somaliland’s parliament officially approved a partnership deal with DP World, allowing the largest port operator to invest millions to regenerate Berbera port. The move created jobs, investment and contributed to the country’s GDP.

But following the blockade led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Qatar in June last year, Somalia has been posed with a quandary on which side to support. It is unclear whether tensions over the Berbera Port will influence its decision over the Qatar blockade.

The port is the commercial capital for Somaliland, which officially opened in 1968. It is located in Somaliland which is recognised by the international community as an autonomous state of Somalia.