Yemen sends delegation to Somaliland to open diplomatic office

HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — The Republic of Yemen has sent four-member delegation consisting of diplomats and investors to Somaliland on Sunday ahead of the opening of diplomatic office by Yemen in Hargeisa.

According to sources close to the government, the office will serve mainly to carry out consular functions for Yemeni citizens. It will also work toward fostering trade and improving diplomatic contacts between Hargeisa and Sana’a.

The decision to open office in Hargeisa came after the two states recognized growing economic and political cooperation between the two red-sea nations.

Yemen provided no timeline but the office is expected to be opened some time this week.

Reports also added that Yemen was concerned about Islamists movements in Somalia, after al-Shabab group pledged it would send fighters to help an al-Qaeda affiliate in the country.

Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said his country would not tolerate threats and foreign fighters on it’s soil and it is believed now Yemen is going on the offensive by supporting Somaliland.

Yemen is also facing economic and social burdens due to the unrest in parts of the country and the continuous exodus of illegal migrants from the Horn of Africa, who are said to be more than 800,000 refugees. More than 60 per cent are believed to be from Somalia, a country that has been mired in conflict since 1991.
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Yemen and Somaliland have historical and economical ties since 1840 when southern part of Yemen (Aden) was annexed by the British and shortly after, Somaliland became British protectorate. The British established trade with Somaliland mainly to supply mutton to it’s Aden garrison.

This contact initiated Somaliland livestock trade which made it’s way to Yemeni cities and later on the lucrative business attracted Yemeni traders and continued well after the British had left. The Yemenis along with Somali traders later opened other key markets for Somaliland livestock including Saudi Arabia.

Yemen will become the first Arab nation to have diplomatic office in Somaliland. No one knows how other Arab League members such as Egypt and Djibouti would react to the Yemeni move.

Egypt and Djibouti are strongly opposed to Somaliland recognition fearing fearing economic insecurities – Egypt feels it will loose control of the Nile while Djibouti fears the port of Berbera will replace it’s port. However, unconfirmed reports suggest that Djibouti is due to open an office that has an embassy status in Hargeisa after Yemen.

Somalilandpress, 15th March 2010

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