28 March 2018

Somalia: Govt Calls for UN Action Against UAE Base in Berbera

Photo: Deutsche Welle
Few signs show the way Laas Geel lies off the main asphalt road from Hargeisa to Berbera - a potential tourist destination itself due to pristine beaches and a historic old center of crumbling Ottoman architecture. It is reached after a bumpy cross-country drive. "The place is still completely natural so you don’t recognize it as the tourist attraction," said one German tourist.

Somalia has urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the construction of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) military base in Somaliland.

Speaking at the Security Council on Tuesday, Abukar Osman, Somalia's ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in the port city of Berbera is a "clear violation of international law".

Osman also called on the Security Council to "take the necessary steps" to "put an end to these actions".

"The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations, and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia," he added.

The UAE began construction of the base last year, under an agreement with officials in Somaliland, a northern region of Somalia that self-declared independence from the latter in 1991 following a civil war.

Earlier this month, the UAE said it would train Somaliland security forces, including the police and the military, as part of the deal.

The UAE is simultaneously investing in developing the port itself, which is strategically located close to Yemen, where UAE troops have been fighting as part of a Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi rebels since 2015.

DP World, the world's fourth-largest port operator based in Dubai, said in 2016 it would invest as much as $442m to develop the Berbera port. The deal also includes the government of Ethiopia, which took a 19 percent stake in the port.

Osman's statements come after Somalia's parliament voted to ban DP World from operating in the country and rejected the development venture.

Somaliland, however, said the vote would not affect the agreement.

DP World has been facing several problems in its contracts in the region. Last month, neighboring Djibouti terminated its deal with the company to run a container terminal.

The government of Djibouti said that the contract to run the Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) between the two parties was damaging the sovereignty of the country.

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