Wednesday morning in #Mogadishu:#Somalia parliamentarians from both sides (Pro-Motion & Anti Motion) waiting for the parliament gate to open so they can proceed. Both sides have different agendas.— Abdisalam Aato (@AbdisalamAato) April 4, 2018
The speaker and both deputies are also present.
Who will chair? We'll see. pic.twitter.com/kyLw1118aC
NY TIMES — NAIROBI, Kenya — A police contingent loyal to a top opposition leader in Somalia took over Parliament for several hours on Wednesday, pushing a growing political rift to the brink of armed confrontation.
Parliamentary police officers loyal to Mohamed Osman Jawari, the Parliament speaker, disrupted a no-confidence vote against him early Wednesday. The police lined up to block the speaker’s podium, and lawmakers who support Mr. Jawari accused other legislators of taking money to vote against the speaker, chanting, “Down with bribetakers!”
Supporters of the no-confidence motion said the police had refused to let them inside the building.
In response, state security forces loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is known as Farmajo, deployed outside the Parliament building, raising fear that tensions between the two men could erupt into an armed confrontation.
Mr. Jawari has been at odds with Somalia’s president since mid-March, when the speaker mustered a usually fractious Parliament to vote unanimously against a foreign investor. The signal of Mr. Jawari’s political strength, and of parliamentary independence, surprised and scared the president.
A move for a no-confidence vote against Mr. Jawari followed, but it, too, was delayed by a security standoff: Parliamentary police officers were dismissed and replaced with people believed to be loyal to the president. Mr. Jawari’s supporters said the security change sought to intimidate the opposition.
Mr. Jawari said at a news conference last month that the effort to oust him was intended to “dismantle the Parliament,” which he said has been “under attack by the executive branch.”
Pro-Jawari lawmakers said on Wednesday that delays made any vote on the no-confidence measure unconstitutional.
Soldiers from the Somali National Army, as well as officers from the Presidential Guard and the intelligence services, joined African Union troops to secure the area and protect the lawmakers locked outside.
Soldiers from Danab, the Somali special forces contingent trained by the United States, were also deployed to secure the Parliament.
Hussein Mohamed contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia; Christina Goldbaum from Nairobi; and Mohamed Ibrahim from Helsinki, Finland.
Diplomatic leaks: UAE dissatisfied with Saudi policies
AL JAZEERA — Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) is working on breaking up Saudi Arabia, leaked documents obtained by Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar revealed.
Al Akhbar said that the leaked documents contained secret diplomatic briefings sent by UAE and Jordanian ambassadors in Beirut to their respective governments.
One of the documents, issued on September 20, 2017, disclosed the outcome of a meeting between Jordan’s ambassador to Lebanon Nabil Masarwa and his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdel-Al al-Qenaie.
“The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is working on breaking up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Jordanian envoy quoted the Kuwait ambassador as saying.
A second document, issued on September 28, 2017, reveals meeting minutes between the Jordanian ambassador and his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi.
The document said the Jordanian ambassador informed his government that UAE believes that “Saudi policies are failing both domestically and abroad, especially in Lebanon”.
“The UAE is dissatisfied with Saudi policies,” the Jordanian envoy said.
The Qatar vote
According to the leaks, UAE ambassador claims that Lebanon voted for Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in his bid to become head of UNESCO in October 2017.
“[Lebanese Prime Minister Saad] Hariri knew Lebanon was voting for Qatar,” the UAE ambassador said in a cable sent to his government on October 18, 2017.
In November last year, Hariri announced his shock resignation from the Saudi capital Riyadh.
He later deferred his decision, blaming Iran and its Lebanese ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, for his initial resignation. He also said he feared an assassination attempt.
Officials in Lebanon alleged that Hariri was held hostage by Saudi authorities, an allegation Hariri denied in his first public statement following his resignation speech.
Somalia’s Puntland region asks UAE to stay as Gulf split deepens
BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.
The dispute goes to the heart of an increasingly troubled relationship between Gulf states – divided by their own disputes – and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.
Analysts have said the complex standoff risks exacerbating an already explosive security situation on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, where militant groups launch regular attacks.
The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.
Days later the UAE announced it was pulling out, accusing Mogadishu of seizing millions of dollars from a plane, money it said was meant to pay soldiers.
“We ask our UAE friends, not only to stay, but to redouble their efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet,” said the office of the president of Puntland, a territory that sits on the tip of the Horn of Africa looking out over the Gulf of Aden.
Ending UAE support, “will only help our enemy, particularly Al Shabaab and ISIS (Islamic State),” it added late on Monday.
Watch this presser. pic.twitter.com/wEH19WsG7t
— Abdisalam Aato (@AbdisalamAato) April 16, 2018
The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.
That competition has been exacerbated by a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a bloc including the UAE. In turn, those splits have worsened divisions in Somalia.
Puntland, which has said it wants independence, has sought to woo the UAE which runs an anti-piracy training center there and is developing the main port. The central government in Mogadishu last year criticized Puntland for taking sides in the Gulf dispute. Qatar’s ally Turkey is one of Somalia’s biggest investors.
One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state’s contract to run it had expired. Another official said the government was investigating the money taken from the plane.
The competition among Gulf states in Somalia has fueled accusations of foreign interference and resentment in many corners of Somali society.
The loss of the UAE program could have a destabilizing effect, said one security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The value of the UAE trained forces was two-fold – they were relatively well trained but, most importantly, they were paid on time,” unlike other parts of the security forces, the analyst told Reuters.
Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991.