By Mohammed Dahir Ahmed
IRAN was trying hard in recent years to gain foothold in the Horn of Africa including Somaliland to wither Gulf state’s dominant influence in the region. Iranian charitable organizations are active in the region including among others Iranian Red Crescent Society and Iman Khomeini Relief Foundation.
The regional competition for political and religious influence between Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia and arch foe Iran has played out for years.
According to the Center of Security Policy’s IRAN IN AFRICA REPORT……….. “Eritrea is an ally of Iran with both economic and strategic ties. Eritrea hosts Iranian military personnel, and provides ports for the Iranian Navy on the Red Sea while giving Iran’s nuclear program rhetorical support. Iranian military access to Eritrea gives Iran a strategic position in the Middle East geo-political equation and another route for arms smuggling to Gaza.xvii.Furthermore In order to counter the threat posed by Ethiopia, and the United States’ pro-Ethiopia stance, Eritrea and the Islamic Republic signed an agreement that permitted Iran to maintain a military presence in the African country. For many years Iran has been engaged covertly in Somalia. The UN has repeatedly provided substantial evidence that demonstrates Iran’s arming of al-Shabaab and Islamic terrorists in Somalia. In July 2013, a UN report explained that experts were able to trace newly-seized RPG- 7-type launchers from al-Shabaab militants to an Iranian manufacturer, despite the weapons having being modified and their serial numbers stripped off to prevent tracing. Iran often uses various routes and brokers in order to evade detection in its arming of Muslim terrorists. One of the most available routes for Iranian arms shipments is through Eritrea, a country in which Iran carries significant influence.”
Bearing in mind with this background,Waddani opposition political party recently opposed the bilateral agreement between the UAE and the government of Somaliland, which will allow the former to establish a military base in Berbera and in turn the latter receiving numerous social and infrastructure investment close to 2 Billion USD. Regional experts praised the bilateral agreement, describing it as a milestone diplomatic achievement for the Republic of Somaliland.Conversely, Waddani party’s top politburo chose to be a proxy agent for the Iranian project in the region.
The relationship between Waddani party’s top leadership and Iran has been brokered in Moqdisho by members of Somalia parliament hailing originally from Somaliland, whom have received numerous free medical cares in Tehran Iran.
Therefore, it is incumbent on Somaliland government and its allies in the Middleast to keep a close eye on Waddani party’s disruptive role in the region.
By Mohammed Dahir Ahmed