Somalia has scrapped a United Arab Emirates (UAE) military training programme that has existed since 2014, Reuters reported yesterday, amid ongoing tensions between the two nations.
“Somalia will fully take over [its troops’] trained by the UAE … Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army,” Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman, Somalia’s defence minister said.
The UAE’s mission in Somalia aimed to support the African Union to fight off the Al-Shabaab insurgency which has lasted more than ten years.
The move comes after Somali security forces seized some $9.6 million from a private plane which had landed from Abu Dhabi. The UAE said the funds were needed to pay the salaries of Somali soldiers, however Somalia believes the money is being used to buy power in the country and an investigation is underway to locate where the funds have come from and their intended use.
The UAE’s foreign ministry condemned Somali authorities for seizing the privately registered aircraft at Mogadishu International Airport which had some 47 Emirati officers on board at the time of the incident.
Last month, Somalia also rejected a UAE port deal with Ethiopia and the self-declared state of Somaliland, claiming that it undermines its unity, sovereignty and constitution.
Late last year, Turkey opened its largest overseas military base in Somalia. Some 200 Turkish military personnel have been deployed to train Somalia’s National Army to undertake the same objective the UAE aspired to achieve against the insurgent group Al-Shabaab.