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UAE to train Somaliland forces amid Somalia rift

March 16, 2018 at 2:09 pm

UAE soldiers seen during a training excercise [Thomas Mudd/, File photo]

Somaliland’s security forces will be trained by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of an agreement to build a military base in the breakaway country, Garowe Online reported today.

The UAE was given the permission to build the base last year near the airport of Somaliland’s Berbera port city. The base can operate for some 30 years, although the agreement is to be finalised within two months.

“They have the resources and the knowledge,” Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somaliland, said.

The announcement made by Abdi comes a day after Somalia passed a law to ban the UAE from going forward with a controversial $422 million regeneration project in Somaliland in a tripartite contract with Ethiopia.

Read: UAE-Saudi disagreement in Geneva puts Yemen’s unity at risk

Last week Somalia called the deal “null and void” on the grounds that it had not given its consent. The Federal Government of Somalia claims that it undermines its sovereignty and constitution. But Somaliland is willing to go forward with the deal, as is the UAE’s port company DP World.

The UAE has had an uptick in its foreign policy led deployments recently, including Libya and Afghanistan. Since 2015, the Emirates has been part of the Saudi-led coalition, supporting Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s forces to neutralise territorial threats from the Houthi rebels. A contingent force and permanent military base in Somaliland would support its vision for Yemen.

Turkey, which is at political tensions with the UAE, also opened a military base in Somalia last year, deploying some 200 troops to train Somalia’s security forces. Early this year the Turkish National Security Council finalised a 2022 plan to deploy some 60,000 Turkish troops worldwide.

Qatar has also invested in Somalia and trained soldiers in Doha, in addition to a $200 million Qatar Development Fund agreed late last year.