UAE violating Somalia arms embargo: Report

Abu Dhabi also accused of building an army base in Somaliland, according to an unpublished UN report seen by Al Jazeera.

A new report by a panel of experts from the UN Sanctions Committee seen by Al Jazeera reveals that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has continued to violate arms embargo imposed on Somalia.

The report, yet to be released, notes that the UAE has carried on with the construction of a military base in Berbera in Somalia’s Somaliland region, including the transfer of military equipment despite international resolutions against these arms shipments.

The UAE began construction of the base last year, under an agreement with officials in Somaliland, a northern region of Somalia that self-declared independence from the latter in 1991 following a civil war.

The UAE is investing in developing a port, which is strategically located close to Yemen, where UAE troops have been fighting as part of an alliance with Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels since 2015.

Somalia has previously urged the UN Security Council to take action against the construction of the UAE base in Somaliland.

The report also noted that the panel of UN experts did not receive a response from authorities in Somaliland when they were asked to comply with the embargo in place.

When the panel asked the UAE to present them with more details of the construction of the base, the response was: “The UAE concluded all agreements with the Somali regions based on constitutional powers granted to the heads of those regions to achieve security, stability and prosperity for the Republic of Somalia and its people.”

In September 2017, maritime police in the Somali state of Puntland intercepted a ship heading from Yemen to Somalia and seized weapons found on board, the international team of experts said.

In a review by the panel on some of the Chinese weapons found in the vessel, Beijing said no Chinese company had violated the sanctions, without providing further clarification.

Serbian authorities, when reviewing the number of machine guns seized onboard the ship, said that they had sold 1,000 submachine guns to the UAE in 2016, with the UAE armed forces as the final user of those weapons.

The panel said it had not received any response from the UAE when asked to clarify why weapons were on board the seized ship.

UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said she could not comment because the report had not yet been published.

“That being said, the UAE is fully aware of all Security Council resolutions and is in full compliance with the sanctions imposed,” Nusseibeh told Reuters news agency.

“We also reaffirm our continued cooperation with the Monitoring Group throughout its mandate.”

The Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut a flow of arms to feuding armed groups who overthrew President Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged the country into war.

Source: Al Jazeera