Egyptian diplomat urges unified Arab action to Ethiopia's violation of Somali sovereignty

MENA , Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

Former Assistant Foreign Minister Mona Omar stressed the importance of adopting unified and strong Arab action towards Ethiopia's violations of sovereignty of Arab countries via signing an illegal memorandum of understanding with the breakaway territory of "Somaliland", a matter that threatens security and stability of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The Addis Ababa agreement gives landlocked Ethiopia long-desired access to the Red Sea, a key waterway for global trade. AFP

In exclusive statements to MENA on Wednesday, the diplomat stressed the importance of the emergency meeting of the Arab League at the level of foreign ministers to discuss the grave repercussions of Ethiopia's deal with "Somaliland", to stand by the side of Somalia in the current crisis and reject Ethiopia's interference in Arab countries' internal affairs.

Somaliland has recently struck a controversial deal with Ethiopia giving Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea.

The surprise pact has triggered fury in Mogadishu, which considers it a violation of its sovereignty.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but the move has not been recognized internationally and is staunchly opposed by the central government in Mogadishu.

Somalia vehemently rejected the agreement branding the move an act of "aggression" and a violation of its sovereignty and appealed for international support.

Egypt backed Somalia’s rights, expressing its full rejection of any measures that would undermine Somalia's sovereignty, and stressing the right of Somalia and its people, alone, to benefit from its resources.

Backing Mogadishu before Security Council

Amb. Omar also underlined the importance of taking all necessary measures in this regard and backing Mogadishu before the UN Security Council.

The infringement on Somaliland’s sovereignty by signing this agreement - which allows the use of the "Berbera Port" overlooking the Red Sea in exchange for Ethiopia's recognition of Somaliland’s future secession from the Federal Republic of Somalia - will harm the common interests that unite Ethiopia with some Arab countries.

She called on these countries to ratchet up pressure on Addis Ababa or threaten to impose sanctions on it if it does not backtrack on its unilateral measures that would negatively affect the Arab-Ethiopian and African-Ethiopian ties.

The expert in African affairs also warned that not taking a deterrent stance or turning a blind eye towards the signing of a "sovereign agreement" with an "entity" or "breakaway region," and not with the sovereign state in question or with the existing official government, may encourage other countries to follow Ethiopia’s example.

This matter will have serious repercussions on regional and international peace and security, particularly at a time when the whole region cannot bear more unrest, crises and conflicts, including the Horn of Africa region, she further stressed.

She also warned that If Ethiopia - which is a "landlocked state" - uses the "Berbera Port" on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, at the entrance to the Red Sea, not only in order to secure its access to the sea, but also to join its fleet in any military operations in this strategic corridor, this will increase tension and escalation in the region.

Addis Ababa is known for its strong and distinguished relationship with Israel, and it may be targeted by "the supporters of the Palestinian cause," which may fuel tensions and threats in the Red Sea, she said.

She concluded by calling on the international community and the UN Security Council to preserve international peace and security and swiftly act to break this illegal agreement.

"Somaliland" is an unrecognized state in the Horn of Africa, internationally recognized as a de jure part of Somalia.

It is located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden and borders Djibouti to the northwest, Ethiopia to the south and west, and Somalia to the east.

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