16 February 2017

Somalia: Govt Plans to File Legal Complaint Against UAE Over Somaliland Base

Somalia's internationally-backed government is reportedly planning to file a legal case against the rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for setting up a military base in the unrecognized breakaway republic of Somaliland.

The Somali government's Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah announced Mogadishu's plans to file the complaint against the UAE on charges of violating international law for entering a deal with the Somaliland government to establish the military installation in the port of Berbera.

Farah said Emirati officials had bribed officials in Somaliland to get the deal through. He accused senior officials in Somaliland and the government of Somalia's former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of approving the deal for the sake of "illegitimate private gains."

He further challenged the right of the internationally unrecognized Somaliland -- which considers itself independent from Somalia -- to enter an official agreement with the UAE.

"The deal has none of the legal provisions needed and did not go through Somalia's legitimate public procurement, financial institutions, and the parliament. Therefore, it is corrupted and illegal," Farah said.

He also blasted the UAE for violating Somalia's national and territorial integrity, demanding that the Persian Gulf state withdraw from the deal.

"UAE has already violated our national sovereignty and airspace because of its plans to come to Somaliland without paying air space tax and without the permission of Somalia's legitimate government," Farah said. "We ask UAE to respect the international code of conduct."

The UAE, which is part of a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition waging war on Yemen since 2015, intends to use the Berbera base for its anti-Yemen operations.

The Saudi-led war on Yemen has so far killed at least 11,400 Yemenis.

Somaliland's president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo has reportedly told lawmakers in the self-declared republic that the military deal with the UAE would help create jobs.

Last year, Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, signed a 442-million-dollar deal for a Dubai-based firm to upgrade the port of Berbera, which mainly exports livestock to the Middle East.

The UAE already has a military installation in Eritrea's Assab port for use in the Saudi-led war on Yemen. The Berbera base, which is only 90 kilometers from the shores of Yemen, will help UAE forces to tighten a blockade that is already in place against Yemen.

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