Pontus Marine

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ethiopia raises no objection over Somaliland-UAE military base deal

(The Ethiopia Observer)- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) already had a naval base in Eritrea, it will have its second one in Somaliland.

The Parliament of the self-proclaimed republic has given its green light a week ago, in any case. Ethiopia has reacted cautiously to the news saying that it will have no problem with development. Ethiopia’s Representative to the Somaliland, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfaye was quoted as saying that the decision solely belongs to the citizens of Somaliland and that Ethiopia has no say over the county’s political affairs.

The base will certainly strengthen UAE’s dream to be a powerful actor in the horn of Africa. The UAE and Somaliland are about to sign a 25-year lease in order to transform this scheme into reality. According to the agreement, in 2042 the naval and air base will become the property of the government of the self-proclaimed republic.

In return, Dubai’s DP World would manage the Somaliland Port of Berbera for 30 years, in an investment of up to $442 million. The project offers an opportunity for the development of Somaliland, which is not recognised by the international community despite 25 years of de facto independence from the rest of war-torn Somalia. For the UAE, it would be an ideal base to move around its warships to attack Shia Houthi fighters fighting the government in Yemen.
It is not clear how this could be in the long-term strategic interests of Ethiopia but the Ethiopian military general says his country’s interest is to have secure access to Berbera port and Somaliland’s government is responsible for providing that security.
UAE, which supporting ongoing activities in Yemen, is already using the Assab port in Eritrea to deploy Mirage, a jet aircraft designed by a French company. For Assab’s base, it is a give and take affair too. To repay there, the Gulf States promised to provide aid packages to Eritrea and modernize the Asmara airport.

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