Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Channel has recently aired an investigative TV program about the “Scramble of Ports along the Red Sea or War of the Ports”. The program was aimed at finding the truth behind the agreements between DP World Company and Authorities in the Horn of Africa.
The Aljazeera reporter visited Djibouti and Mogadishu cities; and interviewed some high-level government officials and academics. Although they did not meet any Somaliland Officials – either from the government, political parties, academics, etcetera, nearly half of the program’s time was used to shed light on the details and happenings behind the scenes of Berbera Port concession agreement.
Somaliland.com looked at the claims made in this Al-Jazeera TV Program regarding Berbera Port, Dahabshiil allegations and others that directly or indirectly target Somaliland as a whole. And after thoroughly fact-checking, we found out TEN false and misleading information regarding Somaliland, which are presentedbelow:
False #1 UAE interacts/deals with Somaliland as an independent nation
Aljazeera TV was misleading its viewers when depicting UAE deals as a recognized and independent nation. Somaliland and UAE are only partners in trade and Berbera port.
Furthermore, the following points clarify the existing relations between the UAE and Somaliland
Foreign Ministers or Head of States of both countries have never met
UAE has no office in Hargeisa, Capital of Somaliland
Somaliland has a Trade Office in UAE (Not an Embassy)
Somaliland Passport is not allowed in UAE (yet), except diplomatic passport holders
False #2 Ethiopia has declined to take its 19% Share of the Berbera Port.
The program didn’t present any document or evidence to support the claim that Ethiopia has declined its stake and share in Berbera Port management and investment. On contrary that, Ethiopia’s PM H.E. Abiye Ahmed and Somaliland President H.E. Muse Bihi Abdi held talks in Addis Ababa in February 2019, regarding the Berbera Port. Similar to that, Ethiopia witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony of Berbera-WachaleCorridor, held at Halaya village, Hargeisa, wherein President of Somali Regional State of Ethiopia represented Ethiopia in the Ceremony.
False #3 Somaliland Parliament Fight against the Concession of Berbera to the DP World.
It is true that some members of the Somaliland Parliament and Waddani Chairman had opposed the Berbera Port agreement, but the actual hand fight between Chairman Cirro and his deputy Mr Bashe happened in a different discussion with no relation to DP world and Berbera Port at all. The popular hand fight session was about the ratification of an agreement between Somaliland Government and Oil companies for the transferring of Berbera Oil Terminal to the Oil Companies. (Here is the youtube link showing the fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gAiFYAepxI ).
The ratification session of the Concession Agreement of Berbera Airport was remembered when the Chairing, Mr Suleiman Mohomoud of the House of Elders, has ordered to be thrown out all the opposing MPs including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Cirro.
False #4 Dahabshiil Company as the biggest supporter of Berbera Concession
The TV program had not shown evidence that Dahabshiil had campaigned for the DP World. Up to now, there is no indication regarding that Dahabshiil Group of Companies have benefited or acquired projects from the DP World and Berbera Port, except normal services such as banking and payroll services.
False #5 2010-2017 Siilaanyo Administration Minister was Ex-Dahabshiil Executive (Showing the Picture of Ex-Minister Mohamoud Hashi)
The program did not name the official but showed the picture of Ex-President Ahmed Siilaanyo, Ex-minister Mohamoud Hashi and others. It is false that Mohamoud Hashi was an ex-Dahabshiil executive. Maybe they intended another powerful minister who was an ex-Dahabshiil Executive and later became the Minister of Presidential Affairs. Who later resigned in late 2015, and not 2017 as the TV claims.
False #6 Dahabshiil underwent Investigations regarding Terrorism after one of its staffs was apprehendedat Guantanamo Bay maximum security prison.
There is no evidence to support this allegation. It is true one of the Dahabshiil employees was accused of and jailed for being involved in an act of terrorism, however, it has nothing to do with Dahabshiil as a Company.
Dahabshiil is an international company that employs tens of thousands of employees around the world with different backgrounds and ideologies. Hence, it is practically unfair and illogical for anyone to hold Dahabshiil or any other company of international operations and standard responsible for personal or private activities of its workers.
False #7 Somtel and SCL Connection
Strategic Communication Laboratories or SCL Social Limited is a private British Company that specializes in communications, political campaigns and public relations. It may be also true that SCL received funds
directly from the UAE for its agenda against Qatar. But there is no any connection between Somtel and SCL regarding the alleged issue of Qatar Blockage. The displayed letter was signed by SCL and UAE National Media Representative. As shown below.
False #8 SCL Group CEO 19/9/2017, as Julian D. Wheatland.
The agreement letter between SCL and Somtel is signed by Mr Julian David Wheatland as Group CEO. The latter is dated back on 19/9/2017, but the Mr Julian D. Wheatland was appointed on April 2018. As shown in this link (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08410560/officers )
False #9 President Siilaanyo’s name as Mohamed Siilaanyo
No Comment on this one. (Somaliland President 2010-2017 Wikipedia)
False # 10 Online websites reveal UAE bribery of Somaliland & Somalia MPs
Last but not the least, regarding the bribery accusations made by Aljazeera, the TV misquoted a Mogadishu-based Somali Website, stating that MPs in Somaliland and Somalia were accused of taking millions of US Dollars of bribes in order to facilitate the Berbera concession agreement. On the contrary, the said article accuses the ex-Prime Minister of Somalia, Mr Omar Abdirashid of taking the claimed bribes. It does not mention anything related to Somaliland MPs. Here is the link of the article of the Caasimada online; (https://www.caasimada.net/xog-warran-immise-lacag-oo-laaluush-ah-ayuu-cumar-cabdirashiid-ku-qaatay-heshiiskii-berbera/)
Media ethics demands that fairness and transparency in investigation and report should be the sole aim of the media personnel. It is, however, unfortunate that Al-jazeera to be seen as a platform for media propaganda against persons, companies and nations. It is also very regrettable that this same popular media house is being used to rekindle the fire of wars in many countries around the world.
Al-Jazeera TV should desist from such mistakes which one should consider as an intentional, and be bold enough, as a professional media house, to publicly apologize to the entire people of Somaliland. In additionto that Al-Jazeera International Media should separate media integrity and the interests of Qatar and its conflicts with the UAE.