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 arrests author, publisher over book on economy

Updated 23 October 2018
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Egypt arrests author, publisher over book on economy

  • The author and the publisher are accused of spreading “fake news”
  • Authorities seized 185 copies of an initial 200-copy run, which had not yet been distributed

CAIRO: Egypt has arrested an economist and his publisher over a book that challenged President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s economic policies, a lawyer said Tuesday, the latest in a wave of detentions in recent years targeting all forms of dissent.
Prize-winning economist Abdel-Khaleq Farouq and his publisher, Ibrahim el-Khateib, were detained Sunday. Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a lawyer for the author, said the two are accused of spreading “fake news,” which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
The book — entitled “Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?” — was posted online by activists. Authorities seized 185 copies of an initial 200-copy run, which had not yet been distributed.
The book contains scathing criticism of El-Sisi’s economic policies, accusing the general-turned-president of lacking the vision needed to remedy Egypt’s economic woes.
Farouq blames the country’s poor economy on what he calls the military’s monopoly of power since 1952, when officers toppled the monarchy.
The book’s thesis is primarily a repudiation of an assertion made by El-Sisi that Egypt was a poor country that could no longer afford costly state subsidies on key commodities and services, for decades a cornerstone of state policy to help the poor make ends meet.
In the book’s introduction, the author claims that El-Sisi’s assertion on Egypt’s poverty “exposed blatant ignorance of the realistic and untapped capabilities in Egypt’s economy and society and the lack of vision capable of exploiting these abilities and potential.”
Egypt has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since El-Sisi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Thousands of people have been jailed, mainly Islamists but also several prominent secular activists.
The government has banned all unauthorized street protests and has blocked hundreds of websites, including some run by independent media and human rights groups.
First elected to office in 2014 and now serving a second, four-year term, El-Sisi has made the economy the focus of his rule, with a hands-on drive for fiscal reform, improving infrastructure and the construction of new cities. In exchange for a $12 billion IMF loan secured in 2016, he ordered steep hikes in the price of fuel, government services and utilities. The measures fed popular discontent but did not spark significant unrest.
Egypt’s parliament is packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, and his Cabinet is entirely made up of loyalists, which means that the president’s policies are never effectively challenged. He has on occasion bristled at criticism of his policies, once angrily yelling at a lawmaker who suggested postponing the lifting of state subsidies and on another occasion telling Egyptians to only listen to him.
In a televised address earlier this month, the 63-year-old El-Sisi boasted that he has for 55 years been closely monitoring “every detail, every part and every circumstance” in Egypt. His accumulated knowledge of the country, he said, has given him the will to take difficult decisions.
In the same address, he said Egypt would never realize its aspirations if the state continues to subsidize goods and services. If the rapid growth of the population — which has doubled to 100 million over the last 30 years — is not checked, then there will be no “realistic hope” for economic improvement, El-Sisi warned. “Can a nation prosper while facing such a challenge? How?“
Farouq’s book, according to the text published online, offers suggestions for improving the economy based in large part on fighting graft and waste as well as tax and administrative reforms.