Reports in early February indicate that the United Arab Emirates has gained agreement from Soamliland to establish a military port and base at Berbera, to be used to support the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts against Yemeni rebels. The coalition has imposed a naval blockade on Yemen since 2015.
Somaliland declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia in 1991 and last year signed an agreement with a Dubai firm to upgrade the port of Berbera. The deal could provide an economic boost and the agreement for a military base there could provide assistance for continuing operations against al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia. For the UAE, Berbera provides a less controversial location than Eritrea, which is currently under UN sanctions.
Observers believe that in addition to providing a more robust base for operations in Yemen, the Berbera facility will enable the UAE to offer more effective training and other capabilities for government forces in Somalia and Somaliland.