Diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Somalia have hit a new low on Wednesday as Somalia announced that it will take over the training and financing of soldiers trained by the UAE.
Somalia’s Minister of Defense Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman said while the government of Somalia appreciates the training provided by the Emirati’s at Gen. Goordan military base, the UAE-trained soldiers will be broken up and consolidated within the existing security architecture.
“Somalia must take over the responsibility of its soldiers,” Mursal told reporters in Mogadishu.
The UAE has trained Somali soldiers since May 2015 when it opened what was then the biggest military training centre in Somalia.
Mursal said the government plans to settle the salaries of the soldiers.
The dismantling of the security pact signed in 2014 signals a further souring of diplomatic relations between Somalia and UAE; which has been deteriorating since Somalia officially declared neutrality in the ‘Gulf crisis’ that has pitted Qatar against a Saudi-led bloc that includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
Earlier this week Somali authorities seized nearly $10 million USD in “mystery cash” from a Royal Jet airliner arriving from Abu Dhabi.
The UAE, incensed at the seizure, has maintained the money was for the salaries of UAE-trained soldiers.
“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” it said.
The Somali government would only confirm the seizure, refusing to elaborate on any details.
The seizure has raised the eyebrows of many Somalis who have long suspected that petrodollars are fuelling the political instability in Somalia.
There has also been the widespread concern over the chain of command of soldiers who are trained by foreign countries.
Somalia’s military commander, General Abdiweli Jama Gorod, said that the entire government “disappointed” when they could not immediately ascertain which soldiers attacked a Senator’s home in December 2017.
“The entire government is disappointed. It was not something that was expected. We believe the forces and those who ordered them had ulterior motives,” he said. “I assure you that those who were behind the attack will be found and punished.”
Several soldiers trained by the UAE were arrested in connection with that assault.
The move by Somalia effectively ends UAE’s role in the military affairs of Somalia.