Somalia and UAE in another diplomatic tiff over seized money

President Mohamed Farmaajo (L) arrives in UAE for a state visit November 2017. Photo: handout

By T.Roble

The seizure of over $9.6 million by Somali authorities Sunday from a UAE plane in Mogadishu has degenerated into another round of diplomatic row between the two countries hot on the heels of a fall-out last month over the DP World contracts in Berbera Port.

Abu Dhabi fired back at Mogadishu Tuesday terming the circumstances under which the money it said was meant for Somali military amounted to violation of international law and bilateral agreements between the two nations.

“This action is an illegal step that “contradicts the established diplomatic norms and traditions between countries and is a serious breach of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in November 2014,” the Gulf country said even as Somalia maintained the seizure was in line with aviation and security procedures.

Somali government said Monday the money had been put under custody of the Central Bank pending investigations noting the Emirati officials were not mistreated during the seizure.

GUN POINT

But in a statement Tuesday, the UAE dismissed Somalia’s version of the story stating its citizens were manhandled during the operation adding the action by Somalia implied ungratefulness for the support the Gulf country had accorded it over the years.

“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 statement read in part.

“UAE deplores this violation of international law and norms, at a time when the UAE has provided all kinds of political, economic, military and humanitarian support in the darkest conditions to establish security and stability in the Somali Federal Republic.”

RELATED: Somali authorities seize millions of dollars from UAE plane in Mogadishu

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A Somali government official quoted by VOA said the 2014 MoU referred to by UAE had lapsed in 2016. UAE maintains a military training academy in Mogadishu and has been training Somali National Army recruits.

Bahrain also joined the fray accusing Somalia of turning its back on UAE despite support in various fields. In a tweet Tuesday evening, Bahrain Foreign Affairs Minister Khalid bin Khalifa accused Somalia of ‘abuse’.

“The United Arab Emirates has set up several conferences to support Somalia, in the presence of the Somali president,” the minister said. “She stood with Somalia against the pirates and made every duty and provided all the support with money, arms and medicine. Somalia has responded only with denial, abuse and belonging in the arms of the enemies of the nation.”

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