Somaliland agrees to UAE military base in northern port

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A handout photograph made available by the official Emirati News Agency, WAM, shows sailors saluting as they stand on the deck of a navy vessel in the emirate of Fujairah, as the United Arab Emirates opens a naval base on its east coast that would allow it to bypass the Strait of Hormuz if Iran were ever to close the strategic waterway, local media reported on October 21, 2010. Almost all oil exports from OPEC's fourth-largest producer now go through Gulf waters and pass the narrow strait, which separates the emirates from Iran, before reaching the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. AFP PHOTO/HO =RECTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE= / AFP PHOTO / WAM / HO

Somalia’s breakaway northern territory of Somaliland has said the UAE can establish a military base in its territory.

The UAE government in January submitted a formal application seeking permission from the Somaliland government to open a military base in the port town of Berbera.

The parliament of Somaliland on Sunday approved the UAE plan. The plan is controversial and the neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Djibouti are opposed to it, according to local reports.

In Sunday’s vote 144 lawmakers were in favor of the military base, two voted against and two abstained. Nine others opposed to the base shouted against President Ahmed Silanyo and were led out of the chamber by soldiers.

Silanyo had spoken in favor of the base, saying it would create jobs in Somaliland.

The plan follows a multimillion dollar, 30-year contract for UAE’s international ports operator, DP World, to manage Somaliland’s largest port, Berbera.

The former British protectorate of Somaliland declared a unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 and has succeeded in establishing peace and stability. But no country has so far recognized it as an independent state.

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