Bosaso, Somalia: Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the UAE 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 and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.

The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training programme 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.

Earlier, a statement from WAM said, “The UAE and Somalia are bound by historical relations based on mutual respect and the UAE Forces had carried out a number of training missions for thousands of Somalis to build up their capabilities. In addition, the UAE has been paying the salaries of 2,407 Somali soldiers and built three training centres, a hospital, and dispatched Emirati medical teams for treating Somalis,” a statement by WAM said.

“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 Daesh,” it added late on Monday.

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991

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