The Berbera Military Base is our Gateway to strategic Alliance in the Arabian Peninsula, and Probably the Ticket to Ultimate Membership of the GCC


A joint session of Somaliland Parliament has recently approved the setting up of UAE Military Base in the ancient coastal city of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden. However, the document that the two houses have rectified was not the actual agreement or even a draft thereof – it was a Somali language translation of the terms and conditions agreed upon with the UAE authorities. The issue of this concession agreement is the center of hot debate throughout the country and each of the pros and cons are convinced of their point of view. The Pessimistic Group There is no guarantee that the Extract Document (Somali language translation) that was presented to the Parliament is the true copy of the actual Berbera Military Base agreement. The actual agreement could include clauses that would give some voice to Mogadishu guys over our internal affairs or somehow compromise our independence.
The Optimistic Group The Extract Translation presented to parliament has covered all the salient points of the actual agreement. Besides, it is not sensible to have the actual classified document distributed to all the members of parliament and face the risk of the document falling in enemy hands. After all, as far as Somaliland is concerned, we are bond ONLY by what our parliament has rectified. If the actual agreement contains any clause that was not contained in the document rectified by Somaliland Parliament, this cause is not of concern to us. It is in the interest of the UAE who are prepared to spend millions of dollars to insure that the people of Somaliland are made fully aware of the actual terms and conditions of the agreement. The UAE authorities should insist on having the actual document dully rectified as they have a lot to lose otherwise – we have nothing to lose. Finally, the agreement stipulates that in case of dispute, the two parties agreed to resort to London Court of Arbitration. We believe this is quite reassuring.
The Pessimistic Group No rental amount or the payment tables have been disclosed. The UAE guys could spend far lower amounts on the proposed development projects and we have no control over this aspect of the agreement. For instance, the Berbera Wajaaleh Highway could be substandard, and the promised health and education projects may not be sizable and may fail to have any impact on people’s quality of live or fail to reduce the rate of poverty in the country.
The Optimistic Group On the contrary, this is the most positive aspect of the agreement. The concession rentals will be settled in the form of development projects aimed at improving the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people. No cash transactions are involved. This mechanism is designed do away with the corruption and to deprive the crooks of the channels of stealing the nation’s money and resources. Furthermore, the development projects will be managed by Abu Dhabi Fund, which is one of the largest and most resourceful sovereign Funds on Earth. This is also particularly reassuring and of great comfort. The Fund is famous for its transparency, professionalism and good governance. In the final analysis, the people of Somaliland will keep close watch on the developments as they unfold. After all, we are not selling camels and accepting drawer’s cheques. On the contrary, we are renting our land against the implementation of development projects. If our conditions are not met, and our expectations are not forthcoming, we will retain our land and take no risks whatsoever.
The Pessimistic Group Somaliland could be susceptible to hostile activities from the Houthis and their allies. Ballistic missiles will land at Berbera and destroy everything.
The Optimistic Group In the modern world, you have to belong to some alliance or you will be left in the cold. A Somali proverb says: Amma Buur Ahaw amma Buur ku tiirsansow (Be a Mountain or lean on a Mountain). Our people should be fully aware that we are part and parcel of this Region, and neutrality in a turbulent times is recipe for loneliness and friendless existence. Further, it is worth to remember that Yemen was already accepted as GCC member before the war. They were already participating in the GCC Education, Health and Sports Ministerial Meetings. By the same token, the Berbera military base is our gateway to strategic alliance in Arabian Peninsula, and probably ultimate membership of the GCC WHAT TO DO NEXT I am of the opinion that the approval of the agreement should be welcome and applauded at this stage. This is because Somaliland is in dire need of friends in the region and internationally, and the UAE is class “A” regional and international player. Secondly, Somaliland has many enemies and the signing of this agreement was tantamount to undisputed victory and landslide defeat of our enemies. The guys in Mogadishu were reduced to dwarfs in the regional and international geopolitical circles. It was interesting to watch and indeed enjoy that the guys in Mogadishu could not utter a word, while Somaliland was in the process of making friends and deciding its fate as an independent and sovereign state. Finally, in order to unify the internal front, and also to erase the doubts and suspicions arising from the absence of the actual Draft Agreement, I strongly recommend the following: After the final Military Base Agreement has been signed by the two governments, the ACTUAL DOCUMENT should be officially rectified as follows:
A) Since it is not sensible to distribute the actual document to all the members of the two houses, I would recommend that a committee of 5 to 7 MPs should be assigned to review the actual signed document and report back to parliament with their findings.
B) Secondly, in order to obtain expert advice on the legality of this international agreement, we should appoint an Independent International Legal Firm who should also report back to the parliament. They should reassure the people of Somaliland that nothing contained in the agreement is detrimental to their interests or will in any way jeopardize the sovereignty and the independence of their country.
Hassan Abdi Yousuf
Riyadh Saudi Arabia

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