UAE ends programme to train Somalia's military

Somali soldiers attend a training session during the opening ceremony of a Turkish military base in Mogadishu, Somalia September 30, 2017. /REUTERS
Somali soldiers attend a training session during the opening ceremony of a Turkish military base in Mogadishu, Somalia September 30, 2017. /REUTERS

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ending a military training programme 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 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 programme.

"The UAE has decided to disband its military training programme 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.

WAM said the UAE has been paying the wages of 2,407 soldiers in addition to building training centres and a hospital. It said the UAE is supervising a counter-piracy maritime police force in

Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland.