Middle East Power Struggle Plays Out on New Stage

Sunday June 03, 2018 - 15:14:16 in Daily News by Journalist Bashiir
  • Visits: 2666
  • (Rating 0.0/5 Stars) Total Votes: 0
  • 0 0
  • Share via Social Media

    Middle East Power Struggle Plays Out on New Stage

    Middle East Power Struggle Plays Out on New Stage

    Share on Twitter Share on facebook Share on Digg Share on Stumbleupon Share on Delicious Share on Google Plus

Middle East Power Struggle Plays Out on New Stage (WAAAGACUSUB.NET ) BERBERA, Somalia—The battle for hegemony in the Middle East is playing out at an ancient African port where traditional dhow fishing boats now share space with giant, container ships loaded around the clock by men in yellow high-visibility vests.

Berbera, in the breakaway republic of Somaliland, is perched on a narrow shipping lane leading to the Suez Canal and is just 260 nautical miles from Yemen’s civil war. Since antiquity, the town’s strategic shore has been coveted by military and maritime powers. Described by colonial-era travelers as the "key to the Red Sea,” the port became an Ottoman stronghold and later a British colonial outpost.

That explains why United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s strongest ally, pledged close to $450 million to take over the port here. Elsewhere along the Horn of Africa, allies Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. have snapped up ports and military bases at sites in Somalia, plus farther north in Djibouti and Eritrea.

Qatar and Turkey, which support a different model of political Islam and are closer to Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, are building in Somalia and Sudan. China is positioned with a military base and a container port, for which it paid $700 million, in Djibouti and is exploring sites in Somalia. The U.S., meanwhile, conducts Africa operations and directs drones in the Persian Gulf from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the largest U.S. base on the continent.

The scramble to lock down critical sites like Berbera is unscrolling all along the Horn and northward into the Red Sea. At stake is the precarious peace in one of the world’s most volatile and strategic corners, and the balance of power in the Middle East. The nearby Suez Canal, meanwhile, is the fastest and most heavily used shipping lane connecting Asia with Europe. It handles about 10% of the world’s seaborne trade, including roughly 10% of the world’s oil trade, according to the United Nations and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"We have new kids on the block…competition in the Middle East between the Sunnis and the Shias, and the Americans, the Russians, the Turks, the Qataris,” said Saad Ali Shire, Somaliland’s foreign minister. "It’s a poisonous meeting of interests coming together.”

Berbera and other sites along the northern coast of the Horn are important because of their proximity to Yemen, a stage for the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is playing out across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been fighting a war there against Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 with the support of allies like the U.A.E. Iran denies arming or training the Houthis.

The United Nations and independent investigators say Iran has used ports in Sudan and Somalia to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah and to allies in Yemen. In support of the other side in Yemen, a vast U.A.E. military base erected in isolated and secretive Eritrea in 2016 has been a launching pad for drones and jet strikes into the battle zone.

Other complications abound. Saudi Arabia and its allies are concerned about jihadist groups, including Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates, gaining strength in the Arabian peninsula.

And Saudi and U.A.E.’s break last year with Qatar, claiming the Gulf state supports terrorism, upended traditional alliances. The diplomatic crisis spurred a realignment of deals on the poor and conflict-prone African coast, where Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan have welcomed more than $2 billion in investments from the richer Middle East nations since 2016.

"Turmoil in the Gulf has sharply escalated the Horn’s already dangerous militarization,” said Rashid Abdi, an expert on the region at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based global geopolitics think tank. "Gulf powers want to control this region to support an economic future that doesn’t fully depend on oil production, and to be ready for a potential future war with Iran.”

The situation has left Washington in a diminished position of influence, Western diplomats say. The U.S. has few commercial investments in the region but has spent tens of billions of dollars on military programs, including efforts to fight piracy, in recent decades, and has increased drone strikes and special-forces deployments against jihadists in Somalia.

"There’s no evidence that there’s a coherent U.S. strategy to deal with divisions in the Horn and the militarization of the Red Sea,” said Payton Knopf of the United States Institute of Peace, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank.

Tensions flared in May when Chinese military personnel at its Djibouti base used a high-powered laser to harass U.S. flight crews from Camp Lemonnier, the Pentagon said.

The maneuvering for territory has drawn a motley crew of actors, including U.A.E. state-owned shipping giant DP World; a Turkish conglomerate owned by the family of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law; and Navy-SEAL-turned-businessman Erik Prince, who wants to develop a port south of the capital Mogadishu. France and Japan have military bases, and Russian entities are scouting for deals.

Sudan, which ditched a longstanding alliance with Iran to secure desperately needed investments from Saudi Arabia, is contributing some 5,000 troops to the war in Yemen, and has been carefully straddling both sides of the Middle East rift in a bid to save itself from economic collapse.

In December, Turkey secured the rights to develop Suakin Island, a former Ottoman outpost in Sudan. Qatar in March reached a preliminary agreement with Sudan to spend $4 billion developing a nearby port on Sudan’s mainland that hosts a passenger ferry to the Saudi port of Jeddah. If finalized, it will be the biggest single planned investment in the area’s ports to date.

Berbera, a coastal city of about 200,000, is a focus of the military and commercial buildup. The Soviets erected a major military base here during the 1960s and 1970s, which flipped to the U.S. in the 1980s after the Soviets stopped supporting dictator Siad Barre, and he switched sides. The U.S. arranged for access to Berbera’s airport runway, one of Africa’s longest, as a potential emergency landing strip for the space shuttle.

When DP World, the world’s third-largest port operator, struck a $442 million deal to modernize and manage Berbera’s port in mid-2016, a more-lucrative military agreement between Somaliland and the U.A.E. quickly followed. The deal will see the U.A.E. refurbish the old military base as well as a small port nearby for military use for 25 years.

DP World said it boosted traffic at the commercial port by more than 20% in the past year. It recently brought in modern cargo equipment to speed up the loading and unloading of vessels, and this month the company plans to start extending the quay.

"We have no doubt this place and the broader area will look very different in a few years’ time,” said Supachai Wattanaveerachai, the port’s chief executive.

DP World said Berbera’s expansion is part of a strategy to secure more points of access along the Horn and further inland, helping to increase trade with fast-growing economies like Ethiopia and tapping East Africa’s swelling consumer class.

Mr. Shire, the Somaliland foreign minister, said as part of the deal U.A.E. will build new roads to connect the commercial port to the Ethiopian border and fund education and health-care programs.

Somalilanders, long isolated after declaring independence from Somalia in 1991, said they hoped the first major economic recognition will connect them to regional trade and help bolster a fledgling army. Somaliland is treated as de facto independent of Somalia by many countries, although it hasn’t been formally recognized as such.

"I am hopeful improvements to the port will bring more people here…business is already getting bigger daily,” said 24-year-old Hamda Abdirahman, who cooks at her mother’s restaurant in the town center.

DP World is by far the biggest private-sector employer in Somaliland, with some 2,200 workers. The company until recently hauled in the devalued local currency in trucks to pay salaries.

Property prices have risen as much as 100% along the waterfront, and compounds are being constructed near the ocean. Older hotels are getting upgraded.

On a recent day, Berberawis sitting cross-legged and chewing the narcotic khat leaf said the investments provide a shield for their breakaway state. "As Somalilanders our passports aren’t recognized anywhere, we can’t travel,” said 28-year-old Mohamed Jama, a veterinarian who was in a shop nearby. "After this deal, the U.A.E. may accept our passports, and I could get a chance to work in Dubai.” U.A.E. officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Others fear the investments come with too high a price: being dragged further into conflicts across the Middle East and the Horn. Frictions between Somaliland and Somalia—a country war-torn for decades—have already been worsened by the Gulf’s diplomatic crisis over Qatar.

In a Western-backed model, Somalia has been divided into federal states. Outside Mogadishu, half of the states have broken with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who critics say is aligned with Qatar despite formally being neutral in the Gulf spat. The states have declared support for the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, which are pouring in dozens of millions in investment to help sway opinion.

The Mogadishu government has called the U.A.E.’s Berbera investment illegal and has complained to the U.N. "If you become part of a bloc against another bloc, you gain friends, you make enemies,” said Somaliland’s Mr. Shire. "It’s as simple as that.”Somali-U.A.E. relations broke down spectacularly in April, when Somali agents boarded a U.A.E. airplane in Mogadishu and confiscated $9.6 million in cash. In a Hollywood-style operation, the Somali agents held U.A.E. security personnel at gunpoint, seized the aircraft and removed the money in large bags.

U.A.E. said the funds were flown in to pay salaries and costs at its military base in Mogadishu, where its forces since 2014 have trained Somali soldiers to fight against al-Shabaab, the local al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist insurgency. After the incident, U.A.E. suspended aid and the training program in Somalia and left the base. Later, Somali soldiers trained by U.A.E. skirmished with officers loyal to Somalia’s president.

Officials from U.A.E. and Somalia didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In January, 103 unmarked containers arrived at Mogadishu’s port from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Puzzled officials examined the manifest, to discover the containers held millions of rounds of Chinese-made ammunition, for AK-47 assault rifles, DShK machine guns and shoulder-mounted rocket-propelled grenades, people familiar with the matter said. In the past few weeks, another 57 containers with similar contents arrived from Saudi Arabia.

The shipments were intended for some part of the Somali forces under a deal between Saudi Arabia and the previous Somalia administration, according to two senior international-community officials briefed on the matter. Saudi officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Now guarded by the ragtag Somali National Army, most of the containers have been languishing in temperatures higher than 100 degrees for months, raising concerns the ammunition will be siphoned off to warring militias or to al-Shabaab, or explode in the heat."This is just the perfect example of how things could literally explode in the current environment,” said a senior Western diplomat. "If there’s conflict…it will spread like wildfire.” source:wsj

Share on Social Media

Somalia:Hormuud Telecom is the backbone of the terrorists in east and Horn of Africa

Somalia: List of former Hormuud Telecom staff members who joined the terrorists. 1- Former Al Shabab leader Ahmed Godane was a member of Al-Barakaat group in Hargeisa. 2- Head of Amniyat branch of Al Shabab Mahad Karate was part of Al Barakat group in Mogadishu. Full Article


Breaking News: 17 reported dead in Somalia restaurant attack another hostages held

Gunmen posing as military forces held an unknown number of hostages inside a popular restaurant in Somalia's capital in an attack that left 14 people dead and began when a car bomb exploded, police and a witness said Wednesday night. Full Article


Somalia:The Next Oil Superpower?

Last month, Soma Oil and Gas, a London based energy company, searching for hydrocarbon deposits off the coast of Somalia, announced that it had completed a seismic survey to ascertain the potential for recoverable oil and gas deposits. Although further details have yet to be released, chief executive Rob Sheppard announced that the results were encouraging. However, Somalia, and potential investors, should proceed with caution when considering entering this frontier market. Full Article


As ISIS Struggles for Influence in Somalia, al-Shabab Remains the Main Threat

The so-called Islamic State received some modest good news recently from Somalia, in what has otherwise been a dismal stretch of losses for the jihadi group. In October Full Article



The SURPLUS corruption behaviour defintely reached the appex level in Somalia this century in history as the world backing Somalian government initiated indirect official federal elections which earlier and a short while called (The Indirect Elections). Full Article


Foreign troops in Somalia struggle to keep al-Shabaab at bay

Waagacusub.net - African soldiers and European military trainers are attempting to ensure peace and enable the Somali army to fight its own battles Full Article


Somalia: Roadside bomb kills at least 18 on bus

Blast explodes as packed minibus passes by, killing all 18 people on board, police say. Full Article


Djibouti President Guelleh Expected to Retain Power After Election

Djibouti held its presidential election on Friday, and with a fractured opposition party, President Ismail Omar Guelleh was expected to win his fourth term. Full Article


Video At Least 23 Killed As Twin Blasts Rock Belgium: Reports

A suicide bomber killed as many as 13 people after he detonated an explosive device inside a Brussels airport. Belgian media also reported that 10 more people were killed following an explosion detonated inside a Brussels metro station less than an hour later. Full Article


Leave a comment






Al-qaida Share ,IBS bank Somalia launches Visa Card Payment

Waagacusub.net - IBS Bank Somalia, which is believed to have the largest amount of money, Al-Qaeda Finance Secretary Fazul Abdallah from Comoros has started issuing Visa Card Payments for the first time. Al-Shabaab's finance secretary confirmed that Mohamed Ali Warsame had $ 157 million in cash, according to Khalif Ereg, who was later bribed with $ 2 million.

UGANDA: New Cabinet Members and Ministers of State

I hereby inform the country that By virtue of the Authority given to the President of Uganda by Articles: 108(2), 108A(1), 113(1) and 114(1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, I hereby appoint H.E. the Vice President, Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, Honourable Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers as indicated below:

Journalists barred from covering Somali leaders' meeting

The Associated Somali Journalists is deeply concerned that journalists were today barred from covering the meeting of the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States (FMSs) as well as the Governor and Mayor of Mogadishu.

ASOJ strongly condemns the wounding of a journalist & arresting another.

ASOJ.ORG - Associated Somali Journalists (ASOJ) is deeply concerned about the escalating violence against Somali journalists in the Gedo region, particularly in Beled Hawo district on the Somali-Kenyan border where a journalist was injured by security forces and another was arbitrarily imprisoned by the local authority.

COVID-19 guidance for journalists and media houses in Somalia

ASOJ.ORG - Associated Somali Journalists has today published New guidance (advices) setting out how journalists and media houses in Somalia can meet their media duties as they navigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-qaida Share ,IBS bank Somalia launches Visa Card Payment

Waagacusub.net - IBS Bank Somalia, which is believed to have the largest amount of money, Al-Qaeda Finance Secretary Fazul Abdallah from Comoros has started issuing Visa Card Payments for the first time. Al-Shabaab's finance secretary confirmed that Mohamed Ali Warsame had $ 157 million in cash, according to Khalif Ereg, who was later bribed with $ 2 million. Full Article



Waagacusub.net - Globally, scientists are camping in Laboratories to find a solution to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sometime in 2020, Dr Patrick Engeu Ogwang, an associate professor of Pharmacy at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Uganda, and a team of other researchers under PHARMABIOTRAC developed a herbal biomedical invention called Covidex. This innovation is said to be a broad spectrum natural remedy intended to manage and treat the Covid-19- Corona virus. Full Article


Somali Journalists Launch 'Disinformation Lab' to Combat Spread of Fake News.

Waagacusub.net - The Federation of Somali Journalists has launched a campaign to combat the spread of false information, fake news, hate speech and propaganda. The federation says Somalia is already seeing a huge spike in social media misinformation campaigns ahead of elections expected before the end of July. Full Article


Oman hold off plucky Somalia to make main draw

Waagacusub.net - Somalia displayed a lot of pluck but were left ruing their luck as Oman advanced to the main draw of the FIFA Arab Cup with a 2-1 win Sunday evening. The Omanis scored twice in the first half of the lively game at the Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium before Somalia pulled one pack nine minutes after the break. Full Article


Kenya resumes its diplomatic mission in Somalia

Waagacusub.net - Kenyan ambassador to Somalia Lucas Tumbo has today arrived in Somali capital, Mogadishu barely a week the two countries agreed restore their diplomatic ties. Full Article


Former Intel official stripped from NISA membership

Former Intel official stripped from NISA membership Full Article





Abiy says 'New Year' will be celebrated in Eritrea, Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights

Abiy says 'New Year' will be celebrated in Eritrea, Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights Full Article


Massive rise in Islamist militant attacks in Africa

Massive rise in Islamist militant attacks in Africa Full Article


Argentina Cancels Israel Match After Messi Protests Over Palestinian Killings

Argentina Cancels Israel Match After Messi Protests Over Palestinian Killings Full Article