Somalia Threatens War to Block Ethiopian Recognition of Somaliland

Ready for war

Somalia, ready to declare war to prevent Ethiopia from recognizing the breakaway territory of Somaliland, has been shaken by a recent port agreement. A senior advisor to Somalia’s president stated their readiness for war should Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed opt for conflict. The deal, signed on January 1st, grants Ethiopia a 50-year lease for naval and commercial use on Somaliland’s coast, a move Somalia has denounced as illegitimate and a violation of its sovereignty.

This development has reignited historical tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, including the 1977-78 conflict over a disputed region. Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia in 2006, which contributed to the Al-Shabaab insurgency, and its significant troop contribution to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, further complicates the situation.

Somaliland, a former British colony, united with Somalia in 1960 but declared independence in 1991 after a brutal liberation struggle. Despite being a de facto independent state, it lacks international recognition, which this port deal with Ethiopia might change.

Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Essa Kayd, views the agreement as a potential catalyst for international recognition, vital for the region’s self-determination. However, the deal’s specifics remain unclear, with conflicting statements from both sides about whether it includes Ethiopia’s official recognition of Somaliland.

Ethiopia, landlocked since Eritrea’s secession in 1993, sees the deal as crucial for accessing the Red Sea. Despite potential regional unrest, Ethiopia remains committed to finding sea access, as evidenced by its determination with projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Somalia, meanwhile, seeks support from regional rivals Eritrea and Egypt, indicating a brewing conflict that could reshape regional dynamics.

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