Somalia stops UAE support for its troops as relations deteriorate

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Somalia is halting United Arab Emirates (UAE) support for its armed forces as relations between the two nations continue to deteriorate.

The bilateral fallout comes after Somali officials seized $9.6 million worth of cash in three unmarked bags on a plane that arrived at Mogadishu airport from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. Authorities in Somalia want to determine who brought the money into Mogadishu and what their intentions are but the UAE has called it an “illegal” move. Now, the fallout has led to Somalia cancelling a UAE funding and training programme for the Horn of Africa nation’s military.

Somalia halts UAE military funding

The Somalia government announced UAE support for its troops on Wednesday. On Thursday, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told the country’s state news agency, Sonna, that the government will handle the payment and training of troops previously assigned to UAE organisations.

“Somalia will fully take over [its troops] trained by the UAE… Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army,” he said.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of Somalia’s military efforts against al-Shabaab but this support will now come to an end.

Somalia-UAE tensions sour

Somalia’s decision to end UAE support for its troops comes after a diplomatic fallout following the seizure of almost $10 million worth of money at Mogadishu airport. The UAE says its military personnel were held at gunpoint by Somali security officials at the airport.

“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” the UAE said in s statement on Tuesday.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since June last year when Somalia refused to cut ties with Qatar, choosing to stay neutral in the Gulf dispute.

Featured image: By AMISOM Public Information – Flickr, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41504822

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.