Serious Concerns About the Military Base at Berbera

berbreaThe Somaliland government’s emissaries, who were hurriedly assembled and dispatched, knew very little of the Military Base issue and may have committed errors that would effect grave consequences for our country.

They agreed to and signed the Military Base Agreement  and rushed to tell us of the benefits we would supposedly reap as a result of the agreement. In the rush to conclude the so-called agreement, they ignored a few other concerns that the public have inter alia – whether Somaliland had any say in what and where the so called money would be spent? Assuming that Somaliland  is being dealt with as a legal entity, does Somaliland negotiate the specific amount of payment to be received and in what fashion or whether the decision of amount and ultimate mode of spending had been decided by some entity other than Somaliland government per se. If the latter is not the case, then would the priorities of spending be the same as those presented to us?  Would we choose a civilian airport at Berbera ? Would we choose the construction of the road to Wajale?

These seem to be projects augmenting the DP World Port project and not in line with any national priorities agenda. Somaliland should be able to negotiate the terms of the agreement from a financial point of view and have a free hand regarding the Modus Operandi of government expenditure.

Another consideration would be the general strategic policy and the concerns of Somaliland as well as that of the friendly neighbors  such as Ethiopia. We are led to believe that Ethiopia’s concerns have been allayed. The Emirates is an Arab country that has military and economic alliances with other Gulf Countries such as Saudi Arabia and also, most importantly, Egypt.

Somaliland has to refrain from any inappropriate actions that would do harm to Ethiopia’s relations with us and jeopardize its security and peace. It would be relevant to ask whether the Somaliland government received assurances on the following issues and to what extent such assurances can be ascertained:

  1. The primary assurance to be addressed is that the military base would not, under any circumstances, be used to launch attacks against our brotherly country of Ethiopia and also that no undertakings of any kind that can be deemed hostile directly or indirectly be used by forces at the facility or related enterprises against Ethiopia
  2. Another assurance that need to be given is that the base would not be used to suppress internal dissent, internal conflict among groups, sects, clans and not be party to involvement to give assistance to one faction or political party or congregation against another in the Somaliland territory.
  3. That the UAE would not seek the consent of another country such as Somalia to justify presence and that no such consent, however obtained, would bear legal bondage or value upon the Somaliland State or people.
  4. That the presence of foreign military personnel would be subject to Somaliland Law application and any action deemed in contravention to the people of Somaliland’s social and religious beliefs would meet immediate and unequivocal  sanction by Somaliland courts

The government delegation have not informed us of any of the above assurances. Without addressing these necessary concerns the military base cannot be in our interest or .

by Ali Ege, Berbera