UAE delegates submitted a formal request to establish a defense base in the region, Somaliland foreign minister Sa’ad Ali Shire said Wednesday.
The base in the Horn of Africa is thought to be a strategic geopolitical asset in the UAE’s fight against Yemen’s Houthi armed political opposition faction. "The UAE has been building influence in the Horn since the mid-2000s," according to security analyst Alex Mello, who said the naval bases are "just the latest phase."
"For years, the UAE has invested in the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands supporting tourism, port infrastructure, natural gas, food security and development aid," Mello noted.
But the base could unsettle Somaliland’s regional partners, including Djibouti and Ethiopia. "We don’t want to lose relations" with regional partners such as Djibouti, Shire said, adding that the approval process would be decided by the president and parliament. Some reports indicate that Djibouti’s government has expressed disapproval of Somaliland’s pivot to collaborate with the UAE as a stronger ally.
Further, "the move would likely enrage Ethiopia, a major ally for Somaliland which is the only country that opened an embassy in Somaliland," Hiiraan reported.