It is hard to follow the way Yemen explosions reverberate all the way to Africa at an increasingly rapid rate . For those of you who read French , look at my piece recently posted here (“L’Arêne de la Mer Rouge”) . This complex morality play summed up the state of the question back last Fall , when the article appeared in a slightly different form in the September issue of Le Monde Diplomatique . But this is an adventure story and many more things have happened since . Ten days ago I posted here a piece on the $400m U.A.E. project for the renovation of the Berbera Harbor , which very soon morphed into a refurbishing of the former Soviet military base . The project seriously shook Somaliland but since that unrecognized state is hardly present in the news , the tremor was neither felt nor heard . What happened ? President “Silanyo”s health is slipping and his wife and son-in-law are the real actors behind many of the political decisions . They have managed to postpone the elections which should have been held last year and are now supposed to take place only in 2018 , insh’ Allah . The excuse for the postponement was the drought which is now severely affecting the country . But the reality is that the small clique surrounding the presidency wants to make sure that the blessed contract is actually implemented so that the large financial benefits Abu Dhabi has promised are actually paid . And the opposition party Wadani is charging Kulmiye (the government’s party) with recklessness  , arguing that that giving military control over a portion of an unrecognized state to a rich , well-armed and diplomatically secure Arab country means courting trouble

  1. Vis-à-vis the Houthi rebels U.A.E. is fighting in Yemen (they now have SCUD missiles serviced and operated by Iranian technicians , potentially capable of reaching Berbera)
  2. Vis-à-vis Ethiopia which is beginning to fret at the high number of Arab countries increasingly involved in the region .
  3. Vis-à-vis the international community which is taking a dim view of this enlargement of the conflict to Africa

Last week President Ahmed Mohamed Mahmood “Silanyo” tried to push the legislative approbation of the treaty with the U.A.E. by buying the Guurti (the Clanic Senate , where delegates are not elected on a one-man one-vote basis , but through clan bargaining) and asking it to support the agreement . In order to bypass controversy , he distributed not the real text of the Treaty but a two-page abstract full of pious platitudes and heartwarming offers . Since the Guurti was sitting in congress with the Parliament (an unconstitutional arrangement) the deputies started whistling and shouting , insulting the aged clanic senators who then shied away from voting . As a result the police was called into the building and physically expelled the loudest of the perturbators . The disagreement about whether to sign of not the Emirati Treaty is not only a conflict between parties but even within the ruling party where presidential hopeful Musa Bihi is against the treaty (a) for military reasons (b) because the argument of the pro-treaty group is that Abu Dhabi will intervene to help with the effects of the drought . Musa Bihi is not convinced . Two days ago UN Secretary general Antonio Guterres said that Africa and Middle East regions affected by the drought would need $4bn by the end of the year . And so far , only $60m have been collected . But for Musa Bihi who comes from a part of Somaliland relatively spared by the drought , this is only a way for the U.A.E. to blackmail the opinion . In Khartoum , the Saudi have promised an extra $500m to the regime , provided that it would send more soldiers to Yemen (1,200 were scheduled to go but there are only about 800 right now and they are seldom engaged in frontline combat) . Meanwhile , the Egyptians have sent a military mission ro Berbera alongside the Emirati one , and this was the perfect red cloth for the Ethiopian bull . The Egyptians are now increasingly involved in South Sudan and President al-Sissi recently visited the whole region (Kenya , Uganda and South Sudan) , trying to drum up “African support” against Ethiopia and what he considers to be its accursed dam . A few days later (February 21st) President Beshir told the journalists accompanying him on his return from Dubaï to Khartoum that “Egypt is regularly delivering arms and ammunitions to South Sudan”. Juba screamed bloody murder but the fact is true . For Addis Ababa , whether one looks east or west , the picture is not very encouraging . Salva Kiir went to Ethiopia on the 24th , practically with his whole cabinet , and ………….signed an agreement to build a road from Gambela to South Sudan ! Commentary of an observer : “That road is the wrong kind of sweetener . The Egyptians are much more realistic . Given the South Sudanese situation – civil war and bankruptcy –Juba does not make plans for the future . So instead of planning for distant infrastructure investments like Ethiopia , Cairo put guns and money on the table – right now”.         February 25th 2017

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