UAE funds protests against Qatar’s operations in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The United Arab Emirates has been accused of paying Somalis in London to protest against Qatar’s activities in Somalia, with the role of its Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates, under strain.
The UAE is among other Arab nations, which blocked Qatar over terrorism allegation.
But, Qatar called all claims as ‘baseless’.
The UAE’s embassy invested Somali lawmakers, politicians and other businessmen, who live in UK’s capital, London, according to a reliable source, who asked to be anonymous, because of reprisal attack.
He says the UAE had paid all visitors to protest against Qatar’s activities in an attempt to depict the Qatar’s ruler as a figure loathed by the Somali public.
He says UAE also vowed to pay more its campaign to create new hostility between Mogadishu and Doha.
The UAE-funded protests are reportedly scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 9, outside Qatar’s embassy in UK’s capital, London.
Somalia, a Horn of Africa country located on key shipping routes, has refused to take sides in the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a UAE ally.
But relations with the UAE have become strained over the UAE’s investments in the breakaway region of Somaliland.
In April, Somalia disbanded a United Arab Emirates program to train some of its troops in a fresh sign that a dispute in the Gulf involving Qatar is spilling into the volatile country in the Horn of Africa.
The UAE trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat the al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab, in support of the government of Somalia.
In April, Somalia also seized $9.6 million at Mogadishu airport from a plane that had landed from the UAE, triggering a feud between Mogadishu and Dubai.
Somalia has been at war for decades and until the last few years it has struggled to attract foreign investment.
But rivalries in the nearby Arabian Peninsula are resulting in serious inflows into Somalia.
The rivalries have intensified since June, when the most powerful Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and including the UAE, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over terrorism allegations.
The Middle Eastern feud is driving the desire to control the Horn of Africa and its waters, according to diplomats, businessmen, scholars and Somali officials.
Somalia is close to vital oil routes and its ports could also serve landlocked Ethiopia, which has a population of 100 million.
However, Qatar and Turkey, whose investments are almost all in Mogadishu, focused on supporting President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
President Mohamed and his chief of staff are widely viewed in Somalia and by western diplomats as loyal to Doha after receiving funds for their 2017 election campaign.
Last month, Doha provided $385 million in infrastructure, education and humanitarian assistance to Somalia.
Turkey also launched famine relief operations, opening the door for projects that now make it Somalia’s biggest foreign investor.
Somalia hopes new investment, especially in infrastructure, can help the country rebuild.
Somali President was courted with a state visit to Doha on 26 February, which Qatar pledged millions of dollars for rebuilding.
President Mohamed welcomed all Qatar’s support and its brotherly relationships with Mogadishu.
The state of Qatar and Somalia developed close diplomatic relations since Somalia neutral stance on gulf blockade on the tiny wealthy nation.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar one year ago blaming Doha for supporting terrorism accusations denied by the monarch government.
Qatar is supporting the Somali government in several development projects across the country.
The Gulf state donated $200 million and more than 67 armored vehicles last month to Somali armed forces in its efforts to help fight against the militant group in the country.