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Mustafa Mohammed, President of Somali region of Ethiopia (Photo : public Domain)


The MoU signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland has caused unprecedented tension in the region in recent times. Somalia perceives the deal as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among other states, have, for now, supported Somalia politically and diplomatically. But the support is indicative of possible military support if it gets to that point.

Despite the fact that the deal, which has yet to be signed, is slowly gaining support in Ethiopia. A day after the Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council announced support for the deal, Mustafa Muhumed Omar, the President of the Somali Region in Ethiopia,  on Thursday made the point that the all-inclusive cooperation MoU is beneficial when seen from the perspective of creating lasting development and fostering good neighborly relations.

The Somali Regional State Communication Bureau cited him as saying that the agreement, apart from enabling Ethiopia to gain access to the sea, “strengthens existing good neighborly relations.”

Mr. Mustafa spoke about it during a press statement from his office in Jijiga, the seat of the Somali regional state of Ethiopia.

He sees particular importance for the region he is governing in terms of obtaining better benefits for its livestock by providing the pastoralist community in the region access to better market opportunities.

He also commended what he called Ethiopia’s approach based on “give and take” to secure a military base and commercial maritime access.

Somalia’s Response and the Support It Receives

Somaliland has existed as a state for over thirty years without international recognition. The Somali government does not exert control over it. However, the agreement with Ethiopia has stirred anger both within and outside Somalia. This Thursday, thousands of Mogadishu residents took to the streets to protest Ethiopia’s  MoU with Somaliland on January 1,2024.

Although the Somaliland government has issued statements affirming that the MoU with Ethiopia is in its interest, protests have erupted in parts of Somaliland as well. In fact, Somaliland’s Minister for Defense resigned in opposition to the agreement. On the same day, Somaliland’s Defense Chief of Staff, Major General Nuh Ismail Than meets with Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Defense Forces Field Marshal Berhanu Jula in Addis Ababa. Their discussions centered on military cooperation.

Several state actors, including China, have expressed support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia. The United States has urged Ethiopia and Somalia to resolve their differences through negotiation. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki in Asmara, Eritrea. Egypt has extended invitations to both Hassan Sheikh and Eritrean President Isais Afeworki to visit Cairo.


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