We apologise for any inconvenience that may have inadvertently faced them (UAE) in Somalia
By T. Roble
The UAE is here to stay and no other country can replace it, Puntland has said barely 12 hours after the Gulf nation said it was ending its military support to the country heralding what could turn out into another tug of war between the eastern state and Mogadishu.
Puntland President Abdiweli Gaas told journalists Monday at the Bosaso maritime base supported by the UAE the Gulf country was an indispensable ally to Somalia and particularly Puntland dismissing claims the Emirati trainers were leaving the state.
“UAE is an indispensable ally of Somalia,” Gaas said. “No other country can replace them in their support to Puntland.”
The Puntland leader’s remarks come amid an escalating diplomatic row between Somalia and UAE. Mogadishu announced last week it no longer needed the support of UAE and that it was readying to take charge of its military who have been under training and support of UAE.
The seizure of $9.6 million from UAE plane in Mogadishu seems to have broken the camel’s back in regards to relations between the two countries. UAE fired its first salvo Sunday evening formally ending its military training and salary support for some 2,407 Somali soldiers citing its displeasure with the seizure.
But Gaas said Monday the Emirati forces who have providing support to Puntland maritime force since 2010 will not be leaving and went ahead to apologise for the tiff between the two countries.
“We apologise for any inconvenience that may have inadvertently faced them (UAE) in Somalia,” Gaas said in a media conference after visiting the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) base in Bosaso.
“There were rumours UAE is leaving Puntland; that their airplane was denied departure from Bosaso. These are unadulterated nonsense,” Gaas charged rebuking social media users for spreading ‘false information’.
“UAE is here to stay and they will not abandon Somalia in their hour of need,” the Puntland leader observed adding, “Somalia is going though difficulty period. We are at the proverbial cross-roads. We need the support of international partners particularly UAE.”
Gaas who first broke ranks with the Federal Government declaring allegiance to the Saudi-UAE axis in the Gulf Crisis as Mogadishu declared neutral stance said the UAE had trained over 2,000 forces in Puntland. The UAE, Gaas added is a strategic partner in fight against piracy, illegal fishing and human trafficking besides the $336 million Bosaso port upgrade concession.
“We ask our friend UAE not only to stay but to redouble its efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet and help Somalia in fight against terrorism so that Somalia can protect its sovereignty and territory. But the Federal Government now sees UAE from a different lens- infringing on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Gaas’ remarks come few hours after the Federal Government said it had received a satisfactory explanation from the UAE regarding the $9.6 million and that it would ‘work with the UAE in utilization of the funds’.