Somalia: Somaliland endorses Israel's ties with UAE
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The secessionist state of Somaliland has endorsed a recent cooperation deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which sparked protests from a number of Arab League of Nations countries, which have for a long time opposed Israeli's foreign policy which they insist is anti-Arab.
Last week, The UAE became the first Gulf state and third Arab nation to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan, a move that could see cooperation both in trade, agriculture, military assistance among others, following years of animosity.
But the Somaliland government became the first to recognize the new deal, perhaps due to her historical ties with UAE, a major development partner of Hargeisa. The UAE government has massively invested in Berbera port, which would become an alternative entry route to the Horn of Africa after the port of Djibouti.
Bashe Awil Omar, Somaliland's representative to Kenya who also doubles as the head of Liaison office in Nairobi, said the Israeli agreement with UAE was a major step towards normalization of the relationship among countries within the porous strip of Middle East.
"The agreement is a good example of alliances between regional countries interested in regional stability and integration and emphasizes eternal aspirations of reaching peace with neighbors," said Bashe, who served as Hargeisa's representative to UAE from 2015 before leaving for Nairobi in 2018.
Moments after signing the deal with UAE, Israel is now targeting Sudan and Somaliland, something which will boost the two nations, especially on agriculture, military, and technology. For Somaliland, the deal could boost her bid for international recognition which has taken over three decades.
The self-declared Jewish state, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen said that Sudan is expected to follow in the UAE’s footsteps after which they will focus on Somaliland and Somalia. Both Mogadishu and Hargeisa have been at loggerheads over the latter's push for statehood.
“There will be, this year, an additional [agreement] with an African country, in my estimation Sudan, that will also sign a peace agreement with the State of Israel,” Israeli news website Times of Israel quoted Cohen as saying. The Israeli official’s statements came in an interview with Channel 13.
Last February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s ruling body, the Sovereign Council. The meeting set off controversy and sparked pro-Palestine protests in Sudan.
Historically, Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace deal and normalize ties with Israel in 1979, under then-President Anwar Sadat, who was subsequently assassinated by militants in 1981.
The UAE is only the fourth Arab state after Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania to establish ties with Israel. The latter however later halted relations in response to the occupation state’s 2014 war on Gaza.
Asked by Army Radio if the two countries were Somaliland and Sudan, one of which was reported by the Jerusalem Post today, Mr. Cohen replied that he would name the two countries when end[ing] the tripartite agreement.
“A normalization agreement with Sudan is coming soon. This historical agreement may be signed before the new year,” Eli Cohen told KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in the wake of last week’s controversial deal with the United Arab Emirates [UAE].
Despite reports that the deal halted Israel’s controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his government’s continued commitment to the annexation plan.
Somaliland gained independence from Britain in 1960 but merged with Somalia the same year, forming the Republic of Somalia. However, the union disintegrated in 1991 after years of turmoil, forcing Somaliland to declare self-independence, a move that is yet to be recognized formally across the world.
In recent months, the breakaway region has been on a charm diplomatic offensive and has since signed a deal with Taiwan, an East Asia island which is being claimed by China. However, the deal has yet again sparked protests from Beijing and Mogadishu.
The Israeli and UAE deal has also received a boost from Egypt, Germany, and the United Nations. Somaliland is presenting itself as a hub for investment and peace at the Horn of Africa, leading to unending interests from the West, Asian nations, and Africa, as recently manifested in the row between Egypt and Ethiopia.