Somaliland and the UAE tie the
On March 19th the Foreign Minister of Somaliland , Sa’ad Ali Shire and a certain Mohamed al-Huwaydi signed in Abu Dahabi the agreement finalizing the deal between the United Arab Emirates and the unrecognized republic of Somaliland . First question : why is Mr al-Huwaydi’s official title not given in the official UAE communiqué ? Could it be a case of (almost) plausible deniability where the UAE could later disclaim any dealing with the quasi state as if it were a real recognized state ? Of course in diplomatic and political terms this would be poppycock . But it probably could fly legally if the UAE signatory was some Said al-Huwaydi , a purely private citizen . So it could be that the marriage started on the wrong foot , with one of the partners already trying to be unfaithful to the other . Keep looking , we will try to track down Mr al-Zuwaydi’s full functionalities ! But apart from the mystery surrounding the UAE signatory there are a number of points defining more precisely the future relationship between Abu Dhabi and the unrecognized state . First the UAE military would be allowed to use the Berbera airport , whose origin goes back to the days of Siad Barre’s alliance with the Soviet Union in the 1970s . This old Russian runway has been overhauled , lengthened and modernized by the US during the first Gulf War and then redone again before the invasion of Iraq . It just needs a touch of dusting off to be fully operational again and used to bomb AQIP and the Houthi on the other side of the Red Sea . Then the UAE will be supposed to build (in fact restore) a road between Berbera and Tug Wajale , which means a better commercial connection with Ethiopia . Then there are a couple of commercial clauses with little application before the treaty moves to the nitty-gritty : UAE and Somaliland to work together on security. That is the heart of the matter , especially if we link this point 5 with point 6 which says : the deal will open the doors for contacts between Somaliland and the international community. In plain English this means : you poor forgotten folks isolated from the world community ? you will become our allies in the Yemen war and in exchange we will escort you for your first footsteps on the international dance floor , hold your hand and introduce you to “those who matter”. The real question behind this is : what are the Somalilanders going to be asked to do in exchange for this treatment of favor ? In fact nobody really knows at this point . The danger is for the fragile – but fighting-capable – state to be drawn into a major war which the GCC can’t win because it faces tougher and better combatants than the troops it can line up in Yemen . Over the past three years , the Americans have supplied an estimated $25 to $30 billion in military supplies to the Coalition . With very slim or non-existent results . There are still another estimated $25 billion in the US pipeline and nobody knows whether it will have more effect on the coalition’s fighting performance. So will Somaliland be allowed to reap diplomatic and financial benefits from the treaty or will it have to engage further and sent foot soldiers to bolster the GCC position ? Nobody questions the military capacity of the Somali soldiers …………at home ! But the last time the Somali were deployed as mercenaries abroad was when the Italians used them in their occupation forces in Ethiopia in 1936 . And they were deployed in what was culturally for them “enemy territory”. How would they perform in Yemen ? And would the Emirati keep their end of the bargain ? This is exactly what motivated Somaliland FM Sa’ad Ali Shire to declare two months ago that he would rather resign than agree to the treaty . Apparently he has changed his mind . His present position is a bet on a fluid situation which is mostly out of his control . The future will tell whether his bet is successful .
March 21st 2017
7. UAE to give emergency aid to the people affected by the drought in Somaliland