Alwaght- Qatar donated 68 armored vehicles to Somalia on Thursday, Qatar's defense ministry said, a sign that Doha is pushing for influence in the country as the role of its Persian Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates continues to wane.
Somalia, a Horn of Africa country located on key shipping routes, has refused to take sides in the rift between Qatar and its UAE ally, Saudi Arabia.
But relations with the UAE have become strained over the UAE's investments in the breakaway region of Somaliland. In April, Somalia disbanded a UAE program to train some of its troops.
Qatar's defense ministry said the armored vehicles, delivered on Thursday in Mogadishu, would strengthen the Somali state, which is battling Takfiri terrorism by Al Qaeda-linked al Shabab.
Last month also, Qatar donated 24 armored vehicles to Mali, in yet another move to spread its influence across Africa. Qatari military planes delivered the vehicles, its foreign ministry said, adding the shipment would help “combat terrorism and establish security not only in the Republic of Mali but also in the African Sahel countries known as the G5.” The G5 of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania last year created a military taskforce to root out jihadist violence.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have agreed to provide about $150 million to the G5 Sahel force in what is seen as a move to trying to diminish Qatar's role.