As the SFG public property watchdog accuses some Hargeisa and Mogadishu based officials of succumbing to Emirati Darham Influence in the deal without transparency
An Emirati kiss for Berbera
By: Yumoha Pasha
Somalilandsun- The possibility of the United Arab Emirates-UAE armed forces establishing a base in the Somaliland port city of Berbera now seem bleak even after legislators in Hargeisa voted in unanimous approval.
This follows the entrance of the Mogadishu based Somalia Federal Government-SFG into the fray that has caused much political animosities within various stskeholders in Somaliland where the government managed to muscle approval vote through intimidation of parliament.
According to the Somalia Federal Government Auditor General Dr Nur Farah Jimaale the deal by Somaliland to host a foreign military base within its territory is contrary to all international norms not to mention possibilities of inviting conflicts of native to the country or region.
This sentiments by the SFG public property watchdog were in reference to the unanimous approval accorded by parliament in Hargeisa a deal between the governments of Somaliland and UAE for an Emirati military base in Berbera.
While the terms of the agreement remain vague, what is known is that the UAE armed forces shall establish naval an air force bases at both Berbera port and airport as a result of which a monthly rent of $1m shall be paid the government of Somaliland.
“Apart from the economic difficulties to be heaped upon residents of Sahil Region, Somaliland as well as Somalia, the military facility is most likely to facilitating the entry of Somaliland into the Saudi led coalition’s war in Yemen of which the UAE is part and parcel.
On the failure of the Somaliland government to provide a copy of the agreement for public consumption, Dr. Nur Farah Jimaale who was briefing the media in Mogadishu said that this discrepancy has resulted in misgivings by many and was as a “result of lack of transparency”
Said he, “What agreement did the legislators in Hargeisa approve, since a signed copy with details of the arrangement was never made available?
To Jimaale who was speaking on behalf of the federal government in Mogadishu,, this lack was related to the secrecy surrounding the agreement which was signed by the outgoing SFG administration of President Hasan Sheikh Mahmoud who lost his reelection bid to current president Farmajo last week.
Said he, “President Silanyo could and can not submit for public perusal the much touted beneficial agreement with the UAE because the signatories are Dubai and Mogadishu based officials”
Stressing on the illegality of the agreement, the SFG auditor General said that it did not pass international norms as pertains to bidding and procurement procedures but was a concoction of self-seeking individuals in both Mogadishu and Hargeisa whose major motive was the under the table payment by the UAE
On the flagrant manner in which the UAE is utilizing its wealth in acquiring Somali public property and subsequent intent to ensure difficultly status remain in the region Dr Jimaale said it was incumbent for the Arab League and United Nations interfere and stop the Emiratis on their tracks before they reignite the volatile Horn of Africa region slowly emerging from years of conflict and drought.
“Just the other day the UAE, again through devious machinations secured a contract for its Dubai Ports World to manage the port of Berbera” said the AG stressing that the presumed development of the port was a camouflage for its actual intent, military facility, adding that its acquisition was also done fraudulently and with cooperation between Somaliland and Somalia government officials.
For Somalia, to which Somaliland is its north West region thence President Silanyo in Hargeisa is head of a Somalia administrative region under the jurisdiction of the federal government in Mogadishu, thus without the power to sign agreements with foreign governments or companies.
But for Somaliland it is a sovereign, Country though not yet recognized internationally 25 years after the former British protectorate withdrew from its 1960 voluntary later turned fateful union with Somalia, the former Italian colony to its south.
Back to the now, the UAE quest for a foot in Berbera which is located on the strategic gulf of Aden did not start yesterday but as far back as 2010 and though the immediate past president of Somalia Mahmoud Shiekh is the one who inked the Military base agreement, his predecessor Shariff Sheikh Ahmed was signatory to the DP world contract back in 2012.
Despite purported bids by some international firms like Bolore logistics for the Berbera port management contract, the Emiratis had already secured the deal thence the international bidding only a smokescreen.
Somalia AG Nur Farah Jimaale In my report of 1st July 2012 we informed that Presidents Silanyo and Sharif of Somaliland and Somalia respectively have coalesced to sell the port of Berbera to the UAE.
The meeting their first ever as heads of state. of the two in Dubai purportedly to affix signature to agreements reached at the initial internationally sanctioned talks between their two countries reached in London’s Chevening house was actually to conclude the award of contract to DPW.
So what next for the UAE contracts in Berbera whose supporters say will not only help grow the Economy but open floodgates to international recognition of Somaliland while opponents argue that not only will facilitate destruction of the economy but embroil Somaliland in foreign conflicts as well as create insecurity in the Horn region Will it go the way of the Simodi mines in the Awdal region of Somaliland where a contract to ARC, a Chinese mining company awarded by the energy and minerals ministry in Hargeisa was terminated by Somalia Federal Authorities after alleging that the firm has been in the illegal extraction of minerals in the Simodi mountain ranges, activities said by the Mogadishu based ministry of petroleum and minerals resources to be in violation of Somalia’s territorial integrity .
Upon the Somalia foreign minister meeting the Chinese ambassador to Somalia the following was submitted to the Chinese.
“ The Ministry hereby officially requests that the People’s Republic of China assist and support the Somali Federal Government’s efforts to stop the illegal mining activities of Chinese companies. This request is made on the basis of the historical close relationship between the two nations.
The Somali Federal Government, represented herein by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, provides a stern warning to all companies operating illegally in Somalia on the basis of suspect, invalid and illegal agreements and contracts with individuals and organizations. The Federal Government of Somalia has exclusive jurisdiction over foreign affairs and by extension agreements with international companies. These illegal activities, contrary to industry best practices, have already leaded to the extraction and theft of valuable minerals from Somalia.
This complaint to the Chinese Diplomat saw the expedited cessation of ARC mining activities in the Simodi mines and subsequent departure from Somaliland in January 2015, without a backward glance at the Hargeisa based energy and mining ministry where millions of dollars lay on contract payment .
While this success by the SFG in derailing any progress made by Somaliland through foreign investment contracts is overt what remains in the dark is its backslap to a number of foreign firms granted Product Sharing Agreements by the Somaliland government to explore for oil For Somalilanders whose determination for their country’s sovereignty is unequivocal while any claim of jurisdiction by Somalia is an abomination , the UAE contracts in Berbera are a quandary.
With those supportive of the Port and military base agreements viewing the interference by Somalia as an infringement on their sovereignty while those opposed and having failed miserably to stop the deals especially the military facility, praying and wishing in private that Mogadishu succeeds on promised deterrence of the deal just as it did with the Simodi mines.