The United Arab Emirates will build and operate a military base in Somaliland for 25 years following an overwhelming endorsement by the region’s Parliament.
The terms of the agreement which Goobjoog News has seen grant the Emirati government exclusive rights to a naval facility and airport at Berbera port adding the Arab country further control in Somaliland following last year’s 30 year lease for Berbera port by UAE’s DP World.
UAE military will construct a separate airport north of Berbera airport for its own use but will also renovate and upgrade the existing Berbera airport for civilian use, the agreement reads.
The base will be used exclusively by the UAE military for the period of lease, the two parties agreed in what they also agreed to jointly work to the protection of the security of Somaliland strip in the Red Sea.
Somaliland and UAE will conduct joint missions aimed at fighting piracy and any threat to stability and security of the region.
In return, the two parties agreed UAE will construct a road linking the port of Berbera to Wajaale (Berbera Corridor) to the south west of Berbera close to the border with Ethiopia. The Emirati government will also implement other socio-economic projects in Somaliland such as education, health and provision of electricity across Berbera city.
The UAE and Somaliland have in the agreement elected to seek arbitration at the London Court of International Arbitration should they fail to resolve any conflict within a period of 30 days.
In the event of force majeure (act of God or any other unavoidable occurrences which stop the function of the facility) none of the parties will be liable and no compensation will be advanced thereof, the agreement reads.
The opposition party Wadani has questioned the legitimacy of the project in relation to the region’s sovereignty and national security. Lower House Speaker Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro Sunday scorned his colleagues for endorsing a deal which had not been openly debated in the House citing the arrest of three law makers who had expressed their displeasure over the agreement.
Mogadishu has remained mute over the matter. Foreign Affairs minister Abdulsalam Omer returned a no comment to Goobjoog News query. The UAE embassy in Mogadishu too told Goobjoog News it will respond once the ambassador is back to the country.