Egypt has begun recruiting thousands of soldiers in Somalia in a project funded by the United Arab Emirates amid an escalating power struggle with Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa.
Egyptian and UAE military and intelligence officials have been flocking to Mogadishu over the past weeks with the intention to sign up thousands of Somali recruits, who would then be transferred to Egypt for military training.
The first batch of about 1200 recruits, who have been signed up secretly through Somali intermediaries, traveled to Egypt last week.
Egyptian and Emirati officials want to hit a recruitment goal of 8,000 soldiers within weeks.
In 2018, Somali authorities disbanded a loathed UAE-trained army faction for advancing foreign interests, and an Emirati military base in Mogadishu was ordered to close. Many analysts said at the time the move was made due to bitter rivalries between Gulf Arab nations.