Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has made it clear that Egypt stands firmly behind Somalia and will not tolerate any threats to its security.
In a news conference with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, el-Sisi asserted Egypt’s unwavering support for Somalia and condemned Ethiopia’s agreement with Somaliland.
Somaliland, a region located by the Gulf of Aden, seceded from Somalia in 1991 amidst civil conflict and has since maintained its own government without international recognition. Ethiopia’s recent memorandum stated its intention to recognize Somaliland’s independence in exchange for port access and the establishment of a military and commercial base.
El-Sisi’s declaration comes in response to this memorandum and aims to protect Somalia’s sovereignty. He warned against challenging Egypt or threatening its allies, especially when they requested Egypt’s intervention. This stern message serves to demonstrate Egypt’s commitment to Somalia’s stability and security.
Somalia’s President Sheikh Mohamud rejected the deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland, citing a violation of international law and the compromising of Somalia’s sovereignty. In his visit to Egypt, he sought to garner support for his government and rally against this agreement. Besides meeting President el-Sisi, Sheikh Mohamud also had discussions with Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque.
Egypt’s support for Somalia holds significant weight in the region, considering Egypt’s historical and strategic ties to Africa. As one of the founding members of the African Union, Egypt has consistently advocated for African unity and has been actively involved in regional conflicts, mediation efforts, and development projects across the continent.
Egypt’s commitment to Somalia can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, both countries share a long history of cultural and economic ties. As two influential nations in the African and Arab world, they have collaborated on various issues, including trade, security, and regional cooperation.
Additionally, Egypt recognizes the importance of stability in the Horn of Africa region for its own national security interests. The Horn of Africa is a vital maritime route, and any instability could potentially disrupt trade and affect Egypt’s access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. By supporting Somalia, Egypt aims to contribute to the stability and development of the region as a whole.
El-Sisi conveyed a message to Ethiopia, emphasizing that attempting to seize control of a piece of land is an action that will not gain agreement from anyone. He suggested that cooperation on development would be a more favorable approach. Ethiopia, in response to criticism from Egypt regarding the deal, clarified that it was solely a commercial agreement aimed at securing access to the sea and not an act of annexation.
Redwan Hussien, the national security adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia, emphasized that it did not involve assuming sovereignty over any territory. The strained relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have been ongoing for years due to the construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile by Ethiopia.
Efforts to reach a negotiated agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have been ongoing for over a decade, with the latest round of talks ending without a resolution.
The release of water downstream during a multiyear drought and the resolution of future disputes remain key concerns for negotiators.