UAE ends program to train Somalia’s military

In this April 1, 2018 photo, workers stand in front of shipping containers at the Port of Berbera, run by DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the UAE, in Berbera, Somaliland, Somalia. (AP Photo/Malak Harb)
Updated 16 April 2018
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UAE ends program to train Somalia’s military

  • UAE has trained hundreds of Somali troops since 2014 to defeat an Islamist insurgency
  • The money seized by Somali authorities were meant to pay for salaries of Somali soldiers, says UAE news agency

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ending a military training program in Somalia in response to the seizure of millions of dollars and the temporary holding of a UAE plane by Somali security forces last week.
The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an Islamist insurgency and secure the country for the government backed by Western nations, Turkey and the United Nations.
Analysts say Somalia’s relations with UAE are strained by a dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia because Mogadishu has refused to take sides. Arab states have strong trading links with and influence in Somalia, but that is offset by the sway of Qatar and its ally Turkey, one of Somalia’s biggest foreign investors.
A government statement on Sunday followed a similar announcement by Somalia on April 11, in which Mogadishu said it will take over paying and training the soldiers in the program.
“The UAE has decided to disband its military training program in Somalia which started in 2014 to build the capabilities of the Somali army,” said the statement on the UAE’s state news agency WAM.
About $9.6 million in cash was taken from the UAE plane on April 8, Somali police and government sources had said. The UAE said the money was to pay for salaries for Somali soldiers as part of an agreement between the two countries.
The statement said a seizure incident contravened agreements signed by both countries.
The money seized by Somali authorities were meant to pay for salaries of Somali soldiers, says UAE news agency It said the UAE is supervising a counter-piracy maritime police force in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
The UAE is also building a military base in Somaliland, another semi-autonomous region of Somalia. 


Egypt finalizing details of long-term Hamas-Israel truce

Updated 16 August 2018
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Egypt finalizing details of long-term Hamas-Israel truce

  • Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha
  • “We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides..." the source said

CAIRO: Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security source said on Thursday, amid easing tensions on the border of the enclave where some two million Palestinians live.
Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha feast which starts next week.
“We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides, and we expect to announce the terms next week if Fatah helps us to do so,” the source said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s mainstream party which dominates the occupied West Bank.
Officials from Fatah have not joined those of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and other Palestinian factions for the talks in Cairo on the long-term truce.
But Fatah’s backing is crucial for any deal as the party retains a large presence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has overall control in areas under Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.
“The period of calm will be for one year, during which contacts will be held to extend it for another four years,” the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A long-term truce could pave the way for talks on other issues, including the easing of a blockade that has crippled Gaza’s economy and allowing a possible swap of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.
The source said Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, was expected to meet Abbas in Ramallah after similar talks in Israel, and a deal could be announced by next week. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Kamel had met with Netanyahu in Israel this week, but gave no details.
A Palestinian source in Ramallah said Kamel has left without seeing Abbas, who had been preoccupied with a Palestinian leadership conference. But the source said Abbas had informed Egypt that Fatah representatives would join the Cairo talks later this week or next week.
Apart from the opening of its Kerem Shalom commercial crossing into Gaza, Israel also expanded the enclave’s fishing zone, in waters under Israeli naval blockade, from three to nine nautical miles off the southern coast and to six nautical miles in the north, according to the head of Gaza’s fishermen’s union.
The Egyptian security source said the extended truce would also include opening a sea lane from Gaza to Cyprus under Israeli supervision.
A Palestinian official in Gaza familiar with the talks said Palestinian factions were demanding a “total lifting of the blockade on Gaza, opening all crossings with Israel and Egypt and a water corridor.”
Israel says its blockade is a self-defense measure against Hamas, a group that has called for its destruction.
Israel’s security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussed the Gaza situation on Wednesday and an Israeli “diplomatic official” said Hamas would have to prove its commitment to the truce.
As well as wanting calm along the border, Israel has said Hamas must return the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and release two civilians whose fate is unknown. It says they are being held by Hamas in Gaza.
“That’s the only way,” Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Thursday when asked if a broad arrangement depended on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.
“Nothing will be done to enable (Gaza’s) significant rehabilitation and the improvement of infrastructure and ports and other such fantasies, unless they release the bodies and the two Israeli captives,” he told Israel radio.
The Egyptian security source said the long-term truce would also envisage Israel freeing hundreds of detained Palestinians in a prisoner swap.
However, the Palestinian official denied any talks were taking place on a swap, saying Hamas opposed mixing the issues.
Egypt has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation agreement that provides for Hamas to cede control of Gaza to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. A dispute over power-sharing has hindered implementation of the deal, but the Egyptian source said Cairo was still seeking progress on the issue.