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.”


Israel drops leaflets warning Gazans not to approach border

Updated 20 April 2018
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Israel drops leaflets warning Gazans not to approach border

GAZA: Israel dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip on Friday warning Palestinians not to approach its border fence as the military braced for fresh clashes along the frontier.
Thousands of Palestinians were expected to gather along the Israel-Gaza border, as they have every Friday over the past month for mass demonstrations that have turned violent and during which Israeli forces have killed thirty-one Palestinians and wounded hundreds.
Each week, some Gazans have hurled stones and burning tires near the frontier fence, where Israeli army sharpshooters are deployed.
The soldiers have opened fire at those who come too close to the fence, drawing international criticism for the lethal tactics used.
Israel has blamed the Islamist militant group Hamas of staging riots and trying to carry out attacks.
It was the first time leaflets were dropped in the recent round of violence.
“The Hamas terror organization is taking advantage of you in order to carry out terror attacks. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is prepared for all scenarios. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to harm it,” said the leaflets scattered by Israeli aircraft in the early morning in areas along the border.
The mass protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return” — evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel — began on March 30 and is expected to culminate on May 15.