UAE to train Somaliland forces and build a military base

As part of a deal to establish a military base in the semi-autonomous region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will train Somaliland security forces, Somaliland's president said on 15 February.

UAE to train Somaliland forces and build a military base
UAE and Somaliland are developing their military cooperation (Picture source: Youtube)

The UAE has already started to invest hundreds of million dollars in the territory on a strategically important stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Aden. In 2017, the Emirates began construction of a base on a site at the airport of the Somaliland port city Berbera. They will be allowed to maintain a presence for thirty years. Berbera is less than 300 km (190 miles) south of war-torn Yemen, where UAE troops are fighting rebels as part of a Saudi-backed coalition.

The UAE will train police and military forces in Somaliland, which wants independence from war-torn Somalia but is not recognized internationally. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto state since then.

The fact is that the UAE has become more assertive in its foreign policy in recent years. Its armed forces have been fighting in the Yemen conflict since 2015 and in the past deployed in international operations including Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The Emirati military base, which should be completed this year, will guarantee economic development and security for Somaliland and act as a deterrent to extremist groups in the region. Somaliland's Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire, declines to disclose how many UAE soldiers would be stationed at the base.

Several regional powers have set up military bases along the Horn of Africa coastline, including Turkey in Somalia's capital. The United States, China, Japan and France all have bases in neighboring Djibouti.