UAE ends training program in Somalia over Qatar dispute


By Middle East Affairs

The United Arab Emirates is discontinuing its military training program in Somalia after Somali security seized millions of dollars and held a UAE plane in response to a Gulf Arab dispute with Qatar, Reuters reported.

The UAE has led a military training program in Somalia since 2014 that’s meant to help the country fight an Islamist insurgency and to protect its current government, which is supported by Western allies, Turkey and the United Nations.

However, relations have become rocky since the UAE joined a Gulf Arab boycott against Qatar with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. The states accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which Qatar denies. Somalia has avoided taking sides, Reuters said, as it has strong trading ties with the Arab states but also big investments from Qatar and Turkey.

UAE state news agency WAM said the UAE has been paying the wages of 2,407 soldiers, as well as building training centers, a hospital, a military base, and it’s supervising an anti-piracy maritime police force.

However, a statement from WAM said there was a seizure incident April 8. Somali police told Reuters they seized $9.6 million in cash from a UAE plane and kept the plane under temporary holding. The UAE said that money was to pay for the salaries of Somali soldiers.

Somali government announced April 11 that it would begin paying for and training its own soldiers. The UAE came out with a similar statement Sunday.

“The UAE has decided to disband its military training program in Somalia, which started in 2014, to build the capabilities of the Somali army,” WAM reported.

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