Egypt and Arab League Back Somalia in Escalating Dispute with Ethiopia over Somaliland Agreement
In a recent development that has escalated tensions in the Horn of Africa, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has declared support for Somalia in its dispute with Ethiopia over Somaliland’s offer to grant Ethiopia access to its coast. During a press conference in Cairo with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Sisi emphasized that any attempt to control land through such agreements is unacceptable, hinting at potential Egyptian involvement to support Somalia.
This stance aligns with statements from Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, who reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to Somali unity and sovereignty at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Uganda. The controversy centers around a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, wherein Ethiopia seeks a 20-kilometer coastline lease for establishing a naval base and a commercial port, essential for its access to the Red Sea.
The Arab League (AL) has also condemned the MoU, with Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit meeting President Mohamud in Cairo and reiterating the League’s rejection of any agreements that undermine Somali sovereignty. President Mohamud praised the Arab League’s support, reinforcing Somalia’s disapproval of the MoU for infringing upon its territorial integrity.
It is to be recalled that Ethiopia has firmly rejected the Arab League’s statement. Mesganu Arega, the State Minister of the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry, expressed on X that the Arab League’s statement constitutes an infringement on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and sovereignty. Additionally, Ambassador Meles Alem, spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denounced the Arab League for disrespecting Africa and impeding the principle of African-led solutions.
Ethiopia maintains that its quest for access to the sea is legitimate and compares its situation to other countries with ports in Somaliland.
This standoff between Ethiopia and Somalia, backed by Egypt and the Arab League, adds a complex layer to regional dynamics, with implications for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.