FM Awad: Somalia will defend her sovereignty against DP World encroachment

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Somalia’s Foreign Minister has blasted Dubai-based DP World in an interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV, accusing the logistics giant of violating Somalia’s sovereignty by doing business in her territories without the expressed consent of the Federal Government.

“DP World has hurt us and endangered our independence and the unity of our land. This interference is ongoing,” Awad said.

Foreign Minister, Ahmed Isse Awad asked the UAE to step in and rectify this issue, adding that Somalia is prepared to defend its rights.

“As we have been told, it is a private company, and we hope the UAE will intervene and stop interfering with us and return to the relationship between Somalia and the UAE as usual. We have been patient, but patience has its limits.” Just like any other country in the world, we are ready to defend the unity of our land and our independence and to protect the interests of our people,” he continued.

Bilateral relations between the UAE and Somalia have been fraught in recent years. When President Farmajo was elected in 2007, he was placed in a political dilemma. He was being pressured on both fronts to choose between the chief antagonists of the Gulf standoff, Saudi and UAE, or Qatar, an ally of Turkey who is Somalia’s largest foreign investor. Farmajo’s decision to remain neutral appeared to have agitated UAE, Somalia’s biggest trading partner. The UAE has expressed its disapproval by increasing support to Somaliland, the Federal Member States and other groups challenging central rule in Mogadishu.

Political tensions came to a boil in April 2019 when the Somali parliament nullified an agreement between DP World and the Somaliland government for the control of Berbera Port. Somalia argued that DP World could not legally negotiate the deal with Somaliland without the consent of Mogadishu.

Ethiopia is a 19% shareholder in Somaliland’s Berbera port, where DP World holds a 51% stake. Somaliland, a breakaway northern region of Somalia, holds the remaining 30 per cent.

Later that month Somali security officials confiscated nearly $10 million in unmarked bags from a civilian aircraft in Mogadishu. The UAE claimed that the money was earmarked for Somali soldiers while Somali officials maintain that the money was destined for more nefarious purposes.

The UAE also announced plans for the port of Bossaso.

Djibouti reneged on a port agreement it reached with DP World in 2006 and seized Doraleh port in February 2018. Djibouti argued that DP World’s expansion into Berbera threatened her near-monopoly on Ethiopia’s imports. Djibouti’s port alone accounts for 95% of Ethiopia’s imports. With a population of 110 million people, Ethiopia is the largest economy in East Africa.

The minister acknowledged that his government’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates was rocky. He said that DP World is the source of a lot of that animosity but maintains that the relationship is not beyond salvation.

“Our relationship with the UAE is unfortunately not the same as before, he said. As I said before, want to have a brotherly, cooperative relationship based on mutual respect for our fellow nations, and hope that the Gulf conflict will end. ”

He added that “negotiation is our first approach to foreign policy, and as we have said before, we always want to have good relations with our countries, our friends and our neighbours”.

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