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Egypt’s Foreign Minister Raises Concerns Over Ethiopia’s Activities in the Horn of Africa

January 20, 2024
Photo credit: Eastleigh Voice.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s unwavering support for the unity of Somali territories and the complete sovereignty of Somalia over its entire land at the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Kampala, Uganda.

These statements come after Somaliland agreed to lease a 20-kilometer stretch of its coastline to Ethiopia for 50 years in early January. Ethiopia, seeking to establish a naval base and a commercial port in the area, aims to secure access to the Red Sea, a crucial waterway for global trade.

The Somali foreign ministry stated on Thursday, 18 January, that there is no room for mediation unless Ethiopia reverses its illegal and controversial agreement with Somaliland. The condition set for mediation includes Ethiopia retracting the deal and affirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, informed Arab foreign ministers that the agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland reflects Ethiopia’s intentions that could jeopardize Arab national security. Barre addressed an emergency Arab League foreign ministers meeting, requested by Somalia to discuss the deal signed on 1 January. Somalia contends that the agreement violates international law and infringes upon its sovereignty.

Shoukry expressed concern at the 1 January meeting regarding the recent deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland. Egypt, engaged in a prolonged and contentious water dispute with Addis Ababa, highlighted that the agreement represents another unilateral move by Ethiopia, disregarding the concerns and interests of fellow African nations.

“It has vindicated the Egyptian view regarding the effect of these policies on regional stability and raising tension among its nations,” he said. “Ethiopia has become a source of unrest in its regional surroundings.”

Strategically situated near the Bay of Aden and the southern entrance of the Red Sea, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia, but the separation lacks international recognition.

Egypt, with a 1,500km Red Sea coastline, is concerned that this deal could lead to the establishment of an Ethiopian military presence in the Red Sea, potentially posing a threat to Cairo’s interests in this vital waterway.

Shoukry urged Arab and international bodies to reject any actions compromising Somalia’s sovereignty. Egypt pledges support and training to Somalia to help safeguard its sovereignty during this crucial time.

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