Dehai News Somalia’s Claim About Ethiopian Annexation Plans Are Not Baseless

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Saturday, 20 January 2024

Demonstrators hold banners and flags in support of Somalia's government following the port deal signed between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. Mogadishu, January 3, 2024. (Photo by ABDISHUKRI HAYBE / AFP)
Demonstrators hold banners and flags in support of Somalia's government following the port deal signed between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. Mogadishu, January 3, 2024. (Photo by ABDISHUKRI HAYBE / AFP)
Hamza Abdi Barre

Hamza Abdi Barre

Somalia’s prime minister

“Ethiopia is planning to encroach on our territory.”

On January 5, Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre accused Ethiopia of plotting to annex part of his country. Warning that the Ethiopian army would “return in coffins” if they stepped on Somalian territory and that there would be “no annexation without a bloodshed,” Barre said:

“Ethiopia is planning to encroach on our territory.”

That is true.

On January 1, Ethiopia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland that grants Ethiopia access to the Red Sea port of Berbera.

While little about the MOU has been revealed to the public, Redwan Hussein, national security affairs adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister, said in a January 1 post on X that the signed MOU will pave the way for accessing a leased military base on the Red Sea.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi confirmed the information, saying that, as part of the MOU, his country will grant Ethiopia 20 kilometers (approximately 12 miles) of coastland allowing access to the Red Sea at the port of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden, for 50 years.

Abdi did not specify how many troops Ethiopia is planning to deploy to the new base. The timeline for establishing the base is also unclear, with parties saying that the details would be “revealed in [the] coming days.”

A former British colony, Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991, declaring independence. It has not been internationally recognized, with the United Nations considering it a de jure part of Somalia based on 1960 borders.

After signing the controversial memorandum, Abdi stated that Ethiopia would be the first country to recognize Somaliland as an independent country. Ethiopia did not confirm or deny that recognition of Somaliland was part of the deal.

The pact between the two parties rattled Somalia. On January 6, Somalia President Hassan Mohamud signed a law nullifying the MOU.

On January 7, Mohamud called on Somalians to “prepare for the defense of their homeland,” while protest rallies against the agreement have been held in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

In the United States, the White House and the State Department seemed to throw their weight behind Somalia, asserting that Somalia’s territorial integrity should be respected.

On January 3, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. recognizes Somalia’s 1960 borders.

On January 16, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said the U.S. is troubled by the deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

On January 18, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD member states gathered in Entebbe, Uganda to try to diffuse a growing diplomatic crisis between Somalia and Ethiopia.

However, Somalia rejected any discussions with Ethiopia about the leasing of the Somaliland Red Sea port for military purposes.

“There’s no space for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its illegal MOU and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia,” Somalian President Mohamud said.

Ethiopia has long expressed a desire to gain access to the Red Sea.

Last October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a televised address: "Ethiopia's existence as a nation is linked to the Red Sea, if we plan to live together in peace, we have to find a way to mutually share with each other in a balanced manner.”

Land-locked Ethiopia lost its Red Sea ports in the 1990s after the Eritrean war of independence, which lasted three decades, from 1961 to 1991.

Abiy further stated that by 2030, Ethiopia’s population will reach 150 million people – who, he said, cannot live in a “geographic prison.”

Abiy’s statement raised tensions across the Horn of Africa, with some accusing him of planning to invade one of Ethiopia’s neighbors - Djibouti, Eritrea or Somalia.

Last October 26, Abiy said that ‘Ethiopia would not use its soldiers to invade any of the countries,’’ but insisted Ethiopia would “assert its right to access the Red Sea and that her power would be felt across the globe once more.”

ሓይልን ጽባቐን ኤርትራዊት ጓል ኣንስተይቲ - መንእሰያት ደቂ ኣንስትዮ ሳዋ | Walta EDF TV show for July 14, 2024 - ERi-TV

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