The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has condemned the seizure of a “private civilian” aircraft, reportedly carrying millions of dollars, by authorities in Somalia.
The country’s statement follows the resignation of the speaker of Somalia’s parliament on Monday a day after the jet was seized at Mogadishu airport carrying about $9.6m in cash.
The purpose of the funds was initially unclear, but the ministry said in a statement that they were allocated to support the “Somali army and trainees”.
It added that some those onboard the plane on April 8 had been held at gunpoint and disrespected by Somali security forces, describing the action as an “illegal step” that “contradicts the established diplomatic norms and traditions between countries” and a “serious breach of the provisions of the memorandum of understanding” signed between the two countries in November 2014 to strengthen military cooperation.
“The United Arab Emirates deplores this violation of international law and norms, at a time when the UAE has provided all kinds of political, economic, military and humanitarian support in the darkest conditions to establish security and stability in the Somali Federal Republic.”
The flight’s departure was delayed “for several hours” during the seizure, according to the statement.
In a later tweet, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said the Somali government had created “unnecessary tensions with a friend and ally” impacting the stability and security of Somalia. He called for “wisdom and reason”.
الحكومة الصومالية الحالية وعبر عدة تجاوزات لترتيبات وتفاهمات سابقة وراسخة مع دولة الإمارات تخلق إحتقانات لا داعي لها مع صديق وحليف وقف مع إستقرار وأمن الصومال في أحلك الظروف، ندعو للحكمة والعقل.
— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) April 10, 2018
The episode has fuelled a widespread view among Somalis that there political problems are the work of foreign powers, Rashid Abdi of the think-tank International Crisis Group told Reuters on Monday.
Former speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari was engaged in a dispute with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for weeks prior to his resignation, including an episode last week where a no-confidence vote against him did not go ahead after he and his opponents arrived at parliament with armed guards.
The two back opposing sides in a dispute between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on one side and Qatar and its ally Turkey on the other.
The four countries closed diplomatic, trade and transport links with Qatar last June over its alleged support of terrorist groups.