Araweelo News Network
Game of Ports in the Horn of Africa. Gregory Copley, Defense & Foreign Affairs.
“Somaliland Continues to Polarize as Military Opposes Political Moves Toward Rapprochement With Egypt
Analysis. From GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs in Hargeisa. Sources within the Somaliland National Armed Forces (SNAF) indicate that the prospect of an agreement between the Somaliland Government and the Egyptian Government — in order to apply pressure on Ethiopia — has caused a profound split between the military and the fracturing government of Pres. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, who, in failing health, has already declared that he will not stand for re-election in March 2017. The main question is whether the Kulmiye Party of Pres. Silanyo will even credibly exist by the time the elections are held.
See: “Egypt Moves to Build New Ties With Somaliland and Somalia; Could Presage International Recognition of Hargeisa”, in Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, April 12, 2016.
The Somaliland military — and Somalilanders generally — remember the strong military support which Egypt gave to the Somalia Armed Forces in their attempt to suppress Somaliland during the rule of Somalian leader Muhammed Siad Barre (after he seized power in 1969), and also how Egypt has been the sole force behind the refusal of the African Union (and before that, the Organization for African Unity) to allow the recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state.
Significantly, Somaliland fits absolutely the OAU and AU criteria for recognition as a sovereign state. It was independent and sovereign when Britain granted independence to the state in 1960, and only after that joined in union with the former Italian Somaliland to create the Union of Somalia. Thus most Somalilanders have seen the recent Egyptian overtures toward Hargeisa as extremely self-serving by Cairo, and aimed at putting pressure on neighboring Ethiopia, traditionally the only ally of Somaliland.
Somaliland bloggers — and Somaliland seems to have an exceptionally high per capita online presence — erupted after the visit by the Egyptian delegation, and after earlier movements of Egyptian troops into the port of Berbera in late 2015 to support the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen (where Egyptian Ground Force units have been deployed in Aden, and elsewhere). Essentially, the theme of the blog opposition to the Government’s warm embrace of the visiting Egyptians has been to say that Egypt was soliciting not only the rights to use Berbera, but also to win the military support of Somaliland in a possible Egyptian conflict with Ethiopia “in 2017” (according to the blog traffic) over the possible Ethiopian diversion of Blue Nile waters to fill the proposed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Having Egyptian (or Saudi or UAE) control of the port of Berbera would deny that facility to Ethiopia, which is increasingly using Berbera as an entrepôt for its trade because of the growing congestion of the neighboring port of Djibouti.”
“Somaliland sets hopes on Berbera Port The self-declared Republic of Somaliland has been sidelined for 25 years. Now it’s looking to strengthen economic ties and maritime presence. Internationally it is recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia.”
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