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UAE ends Somali military training mission as tensions soar

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to end its military training program in Somalia as their ties deteriorate after another Emirati plane was barred from leaving the African country for a search of suspicious luggage.

“The UAE has decided to disband its military training program in Somalia,” said a government statement run on the UAE’s WAM news agency on Sunday.

The decision was announced after Emirati military trainers were held for hours on Saturday at Bosaso International Airport in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland, as they refused to allow security forces to check their suspiciously “heavy” luggage.

In an earlier incident, the Somali federal government had confiscated millions of dollars from a UAE Royal Jet at Mogadishu International Airport.

“The decision comes in response to Somali security forces’ seizure of a UAE-registered civil aircraft at Mogadishu Airport and confiscation of money destined to pay the soldiers,” WAM said.

The UAE’s statement, however, came only after the Somali government announced it will disband Abu Dhabi’s training mission in the country and “fully take over” the troops trained by the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Somalia’s Defense Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told state news agency Sonna last week the those troops would be integrated into various unit of the country’s national army.

Relations between Somalia and the UAE first soured last June, when Mogadishu refused to take sides with the Saudi regime and the UAE in their diplomatic dispute with Qatar.

Tense Mogadishu-Abu Dhabi ties worsened last month as the UAE reached a military agreement with Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia seeking to break away from the mainland.

Under that deal, the UAE builds a military base in Berbera Port and trains the soldiers of the breakaway Somali region.

Mogadishu censured the agreement as a violation of international law.

Somalia’s internationally-backed government is reportedly planning to file a legal complaint against the UAE for setting up the military base in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

Somaliland is located across the waters from Yemen, where the UAE has been waging a devastating war as part of a Saudi-led coalition.

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