Somaliland: The Berbera Base, Regional Turmoil and Upcoming Elections


UAE military base in Somaliland and Regional ramifications

Somalilandsun-In a discrete way , the Berbera former military base keeps inching back towards its former status . On May 13th a Russian member of Moscow’s Embassy in Djibouti , Yuri Koroshiko , visited Hargeysa and met with the Somaliland authorities .

The usual platitudes were diplomatically exchanged but there was a sub-conversation to the meeting : The Russian diplomat — who ha&d taken advantage of his presence in the unrecognized State to visit the base formerly built in the 1970s by the USSR — that a return of these installations to his country might be reciprocated by an official recognition process , the golden prize sought after by all Somaliland politicians — and beyond them by most citizens .

There was no official declaration but the hint was there. Meanwhile , a few days later , a delegation came from the Arab Emirates to inaugurate the beginning of the work on the harbor . Lo and behold , no UAE officials there , 100% businessmen from the DP World company. No hints of recognition , a purely business-as- usual approach in spite of the presence of President Silanyo , Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire and a whole bevy of Somaliland officialdom . DP World yes , UAE no .


Read: UAE Base in Somaliland Spurs Russians 

With the present fitna between the UAE+Saudi Arabia versus Qatar and Iran (+ assorted Shiites in other places) the United Arab Emirates’ prudence acquires an added relevance . But this might not be of Somaliland’s liking . Hargeysa’s irritation is palpable . After being reprimanded by London for several postponements of its elections , and after being subjected to hostile popular demonstrations (a rare phenomenon in the self-reliant country) , Somaliland has finally decided to hold the polls next November . State-of-the-Art electoral cards have already distributed in Awdal , Sahel and parts of Sanaag and these electoral cards are being used as a play for reinforced national unity . Since both the East and the West are not populated by Issaq — the core clan family in the North — they protested about their under-representation in these coming elections and asked for more MPs . Yes , answered the national electoral autorities , vote in the Presidential polls and you’ll be able to use these same electoral cards for the legislative elections in 2019 . That way your larger population will be enumerated and able to elect more MPs .

The inducement seems to be working but the Mogadiscio authorities complained about this “plot” . On June 2nd , Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire declared to the journalists : “We are tired of being too polite . We are going to be nasty . It is only nasty children who can get attention , the good boys get nothing“. Indeed . But how ? There are plenty of occasions to get nasty in the region but none that looks very appealing to the Somaliland leadership . Except if those Russians decided to project their Iranian alliance on the South Red Sea Shore. Who knows ? This could get a bit of attention
The author Gerard Prunier is an Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs and former Director of the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa
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