Somalia has today signed a military support agreement with the UAE to offset part of Somali National Army salaries amid claims the war against Al-Shabaab could be hampered by failure by government to pay the soldiers.
The government did not disclose the nature and scope of the agreement with the army chief Ali Bashi noting that the support was much needed to ensure regular salaries for the soldiers who have had to go without salaries on a number of occasions.
Finance minister Mohamed Adan Fargeti praised the Emirati government for the deal adding that the government had been working on ways to end the inadequacy in salary payment. “As you know, we have been facing challenges in paying our soldiers and most of the time salaries arriving late. We thank the Emirati government for helping us solve this problem,” said Fargeti.
The agreement today in Mogadishu whose details was kept from the media brings into question the increasing dependency on foreign governments to support core functions of the state with analysts raising concerns over the country’s ability to stand on its feet.
UAE military support
It is unclear if the agreement covers regional state militaries and for how long though the minister only indicated the deal was as short term arrangement.
In July the UAE government donated military vehicles and other assortments to the military of Jubbaland State including RG-31 armoured personnel carriers. In the same month UAE donated armoured vehicles, traffic police motorbikes, jeep vehicles and water tankers to Somaliland police. A month before, in June, UAE also donated armoured vehicles, Toyota/LandCruiser-type vehicles and other equipment such as tank trailers to Somali police.
Concerns have also been rife on the transparency agreements regarding the manner in which monies meant for military salaries are being managed. Reuters last week quoted a leaked UN Monitoring report casting aspersions on transparency and accountability in military spending with claims senior military personnel could be fleecing the military coffers for personal gain at the expense of hardworking soldiers.
The UN Monitoring Group for Eritrea and Somalia allegedly note that senior military officials have grossly inflated troop number to enable them pocket the difference in donor funding.
“Few cases illustrate the threat posed by financial mismanagement and misappropriation to peace, security and stability in Somalia more than corruption within the Federal Government security institutions,” said the U.N. monitoring group.
Issues also abound on the number of foreign governments and institutions funding the military and the nature of policy to ensure all donor funds are channeled to the intended use. The UK and the US provides stipends of about $100 for every soldier on a monthly basis.
Somali National Army has been battling Al-Shabaab alongside better equipped and remunerated AMISOM troops. The government has been working on integrating the National Army with a call to the regional states to contribute soldiers to the National Army. Puntland pledged in May to contribute 3000 troops to join SNA.
However keeping the troops motivated in light of an insurgency remains a major challenge for the government which cannot only cite lack of funds but equally challenged to prudently use the funds for a common good.