The United Arab Emirates denounced the seizure by Somali security staff of several million dollars from one of its civilian aircraft at Mogadishu airport this week.
The UAE said it was sending the money to the Somali army to support operations against Islamist militants and a government minister said internal Somali politics appeared to lie behind the incident in which the aircraft was also temporarily seized.
About $9.6 million in cash was taken from the aircraft that had landed from the UAE, Somali police and government sources had said.
The UAE foreign ministry issued a statement on the state news agency WAM to protest the incident.
“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” it said, adding the aircraft was allowed to depart several hours later.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the UAE was trying to resolve the issue with the Somali government.
He noted the UAE backs counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia, where Al Shabaab militants stage regular attacks and it had been sending money there as part of its commitment to Somalia’s “stability and prosperity in the fight against terrorism”.
“The money came in for our usual payments to various security and other commitments we have in Somalia,” he told Reuters. “Unfortunately, we are seeing some internal Somali dynamics trying to present it otherwise and I think it will be clear in the coming few days.”
The speaker of Somalia’s parliament Mohamed Osman Jawarire quit on Monday after a dispute with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, in a sign that a crisis in the Gulf may spill over into the country’s politics.
Analysts say the resignation may be linked to the perception the rivals back opposing sides in a diplomatic dispute involving Qatar and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and its ally, the UAE.
The cash seizure is the latest incident in apparently frayed relations between the two countries. Last month, Somalia voted to ban DP World from the country. The port operator, owned by the UAE’s Dubai government, is developing a port in Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia.
It is unclear how Somalia’s federal government could enforce the ban given Somaliland has acted as a de-facto state since 1991.