Somalia – UAE talks begin to end rift

Somali National Army

Somalia has begun conciliatory talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over tensions which erupted last month, with Mogadishu hoping to clarify some facts surrounding recent events.

So far the talks are “progressing well”, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmed, Isse Awad, said. It is unclear where the talks are taking place, although Saudi Arabia intended to mediate the conflict back in mid-March.

Somalia put an end to a UAE-led training programme that existed since 2014 last week. The UAE was training Somali troops in a bid to support the African Union to neutralise threats posed by Al-Shabaab insurgency which has fought the Somali government for more than ten years. Yesterday the UAE’s foreign ministry claimed it disbanded the military training programme, and even suspended operations at a hospital run by the Emirates.

Last month, Somalia rejected a $422 million tripartite port agreement between Ethiopia, Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) logistics port company DP World as “null and void”. Somalia claims the deal undermined its sovereignty and it was not consulted. Somalia’s heavy opposition to the port deal led to a parliamentary vote for a law to officially ban DP World.

Over the weekend, Somalia stopped a UAE-plane from leaving the Bosaso airportafter Emirati officials refused to allow their luggage to be searched. A similar incident occurred early this month when Somalia’s security forces intercepted a UAE jet carrying some $9.6 million after a long stand-off with Emirati officials.