The Government of Somaliland on Saturday expressed full support to Saudi led Gulf Coalition against Qatar Government.
The Council of Ministers chaired by President Silanyo held extraordinary meeting at the Presidency in which they decided Somaliland to support the decision by Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Sunni countries to cut ties with Qatar Government.
According to Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire, in a press conference at the Presidency along with Minister of Information and Minister of Education, Somaliland made the following decisions:
1.The Government of Somaliland fully supports the decision of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and UAE against Qatar Government in the Gulf crises.
2. From today on, no airline must use the airspace of the Republic of Somaliland without authorization of the Government of Somaliland.
3. Somaliland is independent to govern its airspace, land and sea. Somalia cannot authorize the use of Somaliland’s airspace, land and sea to anyone.
Why Somaliland is taking sides with the Saudi led coalition?
Somaliland Government has not explicitly explained the reason behind this decision but there are several factors that are likely to have led Somaliland to support Saudi and UAE coalition.
Somaliland has recently established strong economic relationship with UAE. The two governments reached two main agreements in 2017 that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to expand and develop Berbera Port, build new complementary civilian airport in Berbera and establish UAE military base at the existing airport of Berbera.
Implementation of those agreements has already begun as the Government of Somaliland officially handed over the management of Berbera port to DP World, a global company owned by the Government of UAE.
Moreover, UAE Government donated two million dollars to Somaliland’s Drought Recovery Program in May in a move to further strengthen its relationship with Somaliland.
Unlike UAE, Qatar Government has no visible relationship with the Government of Somaliland and has no known projects in Somaliland not to mention the public perception that Turkey and Qatar are pro-Somalia in the context of Somaliland’s quest for recognition.
Given that Somaliland has not yet secured international recognition, it has long been struggling to get the attention of powerful Arab countries for its case and sees UAE as the gate to new diplomatic relations with Gulf countries.
Somaliland also hopes siding with Saudi coalition will convince Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on Somaliland lifestock export to Saudi markets.
For these reasons, the last thing Somaliland wants is to jeopardize its new but promising relationship with the UAE.
It is not yet clear if Somaliland proactively cut the ties with Qatar or if UAE Government requested Somaliland to do so.
There are unconfirmed reports that President Silanyo will depart for UAE in this week.