Somali MPs scrap Dubai ports agreement

Last month, the UAE infrastructure giant accused Djibouti of illegally seizing the Doraleh container terminal, the main transit route to landlocked Ethiopia. (Reuters)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Somali MPs scrap Dubai ports agreement

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s Parliament has declared “null and void” a port deal signed by breakaway Somaliland that has raised tensions between Mogadishu and Hargeisa.
Dubai-based DP World this month struck a deal giving Ethiopia a 19-percent stake in Somaliland’s Berbera port.
The move has angered Somalia, which does not recognize Somaliland’s long-standing claim of independence and has a history of animosity with Ethiopia.
Declaring the deal unconstitutional and therefore “null and void” Mogadishu’s Parliament on Monday asserted in a resolution: “It is only the Federal Government of Somalia that can engage in international deals.”
“All ports, and airports in the country are national property and ... no one can privately claim ownership,” it said, after 168 out of 170 MPs voted the deal down. The resolution went on to ban DP World from operating anywhere in Somalia.
“The DP World company intentionally violated the sovereignty of Somalia, so this company is banned completely from operating in Somalia,” the Parliament said.
The company currently manages Bossaso port in semi-autonomous Puntland, as well as Berbera.
It is unclear how Mogadishu would enforce the proposed ban, nor whether President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will assent to it.
Last month, the UAE infrastructure giant accused Djibouti of illegally seizing the Doraleh container terminal, the main transit route to landlocked Ethiopia.
The company plans to invest $442 million developing Berbera on the Gulf of Aden shipping route, and has retained a majority 51-percent share in the port. The remaining 30 percent is owned by Somaliland’s government.
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Sacad Ali Shire defended both the initial deal with DP World, signed in 2016, and the recent buy-in by Ethiopia, which hopes the Berbera corridor will offer it another route to the sea for imports and exports.
“The deal was bilateral, one initially between DP world and Somaliland, and both of them have the right to sell their shares if the other side agrees. That is the basis under which Ethiopia is allowed to join,” he told reporters in Hargeisa on Sunday.
The Mogadishu parliamentary statement ratchets up tensions between Somalia and its breakaway northwestern region whose independence claim since 1991 has gone unrecognized.
Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi has taken a defiant stance toward Somalia over the port.
“We are ready to defend our sovereignty from this invasion,” he said last week.
“Somaliland has the right to decide what deals to engage in, without consulting anyone.”


4 Palestinians killed during border protests

Updated 11 min 14 sec ago
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4 Palestinians killed during border protests

  • Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and one more near Rafah
  • Airstrikes were continuing into the evening, with a number of explosions in different parts of Gaza

GAZA: Israeli forces unleashed a wave of strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday after saying troops came under fire, killing three Hamas members as a fresh escalation heightened fears of wider conflict.
Fireballs exploded into the sky over the Palestinian enclave as the UN urged all sides to step “back from the brink” of war after months of tensions.
A fourth Palestinian was also shot dead during protests along the frontier with Israel, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said “everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now!“
“Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed,” he wrote on Twitter.
An Israeli army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier and “in response... aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”
It did not say if any Israeli soldiers were hurt in the shooting.
Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and one more near Rafah, the enclave’s health ministry said.
The military wing of Hamas named the three men as Shaban Abu Khatar, Mohammed Abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.
Israel’s military said its aircraft and tanks had targeted “eight military posts” belonging to Hamas.
It said jets were conducting strikes in “various locations” as part of a “wide-scale attack.”
“Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the military warned.
Airstrikes were continuing into the evening, with a number of explosions in different parts of Gaza, AFP correspondents said.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said a fourth man named as Mohammed Badwan was later shot dead by Israeli forces during protests along the border.
Israeli media reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was receiving an emergency briefing from the army on the situation.
Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war, raising worries of another round of conflict.
Israel hit dozens of sites it said belonged to militants in the Gaza Strip in Saturday’s strikes, killing two Palestinian teenagers.
The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot.
For more than a week, Israel has been hardening its response to kites and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza
In recent days, the Israeli army has opened fire at groups launching such devices. Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned of a “much tougher” response against Hamas if it fires more rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Israeli DefenSe Minister Avigdor Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.
Israeli television this week broadcast footage of army training maneuvers for an incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu also conducted a tour along the border region for the first time since the start of the clashes.
Government officials such as Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan have called for systematic attacks on kite launchers.
Israel has also further tightened its blockade of Gaza by closing the only goods crossing, suspending oil and gas deliveries.