Addis Ababa (ANN)-Growing tensions surround recent military discussions between Ethiopia and Somaliland, escalating existing volatility in the Horn of Africa. These talks followed a contentious pact allowing Ethiopia Red Sea access through Somaliland, vehemently opposed by Somalia. Mogadishu labeled the memorandum of understanding (MoU) as “aggression,” prompting concerns about respecting Somalia’s sovereignty.
In response to the Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia visited Eritrea, seeking international support against the deal. Eritrea, often isolated, engaged in discussions with Somalia, sparking curiosity about potential regional implications.
Ethiopia’s pursuit of coastal access, highlighted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has triggered apprehension among neighbors. The recent agreement granting Ethiopia maritime services and a military facility in Somaliland raised concerns, especially from Djibouti, chairing the regional organization IGAD, advocating for dialogue to de-escalate tensions.
The geopolitical complexities in the Horn of Africa are underscored by the agreement, with Somaliland’s unrecognized independence and Mogadishu’s firm opposition creating a contentious backdrop. Global stakeholders, including the United States and the African Union, are drawn into the diplomatic rift, emphasizing peace and respect for Somalia’s territorial integrity.
Historical ties between Ethiopia and Eritrea, marked by tensions during the Tigray conflict, add depth to the situation. Despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reassurances against invasion, Ethiopia’s persistent pursuit of port access reveals strategic ambitions.
The signed agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland ends Ethiopia’s decades-long landlocked status, providing crucial coastline access. With a 50-year lease for twenty kilometers of coastline, Ethiopia gains commercial maritime services and a military foothold, reshaping regional power dynamics and prompting concerns from Djibouti and international actors.