Abu Dhabi (Caasimada Online) – Somalia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed an agreement to strengthen military and security ties, as well as cooperate in anti-terrorism efforts, in an effort to improve strained relations between the two countries.
The deal was signed by Somali Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and his UAE counterpart, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Bowardi, on Wednesday evening in Abu Dhabi.
According to a statement by Nur, the agreement will help to strengthen the “institutional capacity-building of Somalia’s security forces” and aid in ongoing efforts to defeat Al-Shabab in Somalia.
Al-Shabab is an Al-Qaeda affiliate that has claimed thousands of lives in a campaign against the Somali government and international peacekeeping forces since at least 2007.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared full-scale war against Al-Shabab as the group continues to carry out violent attacks in the country.
On Wednesday, the group was responsible for twin suicide car bombings in the central Somali town of Mahas, which killed at least 35 people and injured more than 70 others.
The UAE remains a “strategic partner in Somalia’s peace-building and state-building efforts,” Nur added. A UAE Defence Ministry statement read talks also focused on efforts to protect mutual interests.
Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been chilly in recent years, particularly over Somali allegations of UAE interference in its internal politics.
Tensions reached a boiling point during the tenure of former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after Somalia seized $9.6 million from a United Arab Emirates plane in Mogadishu in April 2018. In response, the UAE closed a military facility and a hospital in Mogadishu and disbanded its military training mission.
Somalia released the money in February 2022, and prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble apologized, which the United Arab Emirates accepted.
President Mohamud, who led Somalia from 2012 to 2017 and started his second tenure last May, has made mending diplomatic relations with the UAE a top foreign policy priority.
During a June 2022 meeting with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Somali President Mohamud expressed gratitude for the UAE’s longstanding support of Somalia and thanked Al Nahyan for the warm reception of the Somali people.
The leaders discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between their countries in various sectors, particularly concerning development and peace in Somalia.
Al Nahyan reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to supporting Somalia’s efforts to establish a peaceful and stable state and expressed a desire to assist the Somali government in construction, development, and stability.
In return, Mohamud expressed a desire to expand cooperation between the UAE and Somalia across all fronts and contribute to regional stability and security.
The signing of the new defense cooperation agreement between Somalia and the UAE represents a significant milestone in the relationship between the two countries as they work to improve strained relations and strengthen cooperation in the face of shared challenges, such as terrorism and instability.
The agreement will help to strengthen the capacity of Somalia’s security forces and support efforts to combat Al-Shabab. This terrorist group has claimed thousands of lives in its campaign against the Somali government and international forces.