Dr. M. Omar Hashi
Galmudug State, the mineral rich Federal member state of Somalia, holds significant economic, military and geo-strategic importance for Ethiopia. Galmudug which is set to hold presidential elections in February 2024 is the nexus of economic integration between Ethiopia and Somalia under the IMF and World Bank financed Horn Initiative programme. Therefore, the consolidation of Galmudug’s security will facilitate key transportation linkages with Ethiopia which in turn will bring the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to extract the vast mineral wealth of the state, chiefly uranium as well as offshore hydrocarbon natural gas. Integration with Ethiopia and extraction of the resources of the state will directly benefit the Galmudug communities.
Brief Overview of Ethiopian Involvement in Central Somalia
Central Somalia, the Galguduud and Mudug region of Somalia have always been strategic to Ethiopia’s military planning vis-à-vis Somalia. It was under Emperor Haile Selassie ( 1930-1974) who was the first to recognize the importance of central Somalia as the achilles heel of the nascent Somali republic. Control over the Somalia central zone would sever the country into northern and southern enclaves and provide continuous access to the Indian Ocean.
The Habr Gedir of Galmudug
Of the Somali clans that inhabit the Galmudug state, the predominant majority hail from the Habr Gedir-Hawiye clan with minority Dir and Marehan-Darood clan as well as pockets of other related Hawiye ( Duduble, Abgaal and Murusade). The Ethiopian state and the Habr Gedir have some historic ties.
In the 1950s and 1960s under Emperor Haile Selassie, the Ethiopia provided sanctuary and support to the Koofi Dhuub Uprising, a largely Habr Gedir rebellion against the abuses of fascist Italian colonial administration and the post-independence regime of Aden Abdulle Osman Daar and Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.
In the late 1970s and 1980s under the Derg of Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopia actively intervened in response to the war of 1977-78 instigated by the dictatorial Siad Barre regime.
Ethiopian state again hosted in the adjacent areas along the border with central Somalia various internal Somali rebel formations. The first of such groups being the Majeertyn SSDF of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed (which the TPLF regime would military intervention again during his tenure as president of the Transitional Federal Government in 2004-2008).
Of more consequential historic import was the Derg decision to support the SNM-USC faction led by General Mohamed Farah Aidid in late 1980s in concert with the main northern SNM in Somaliland. The USC of General Aidid would ultimately provide the most dividends in toppling the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu in 1991-1992.
Since the demise of the Siad Barre regime and the ensuing Civil War, Ethiopia has robustly maintained military and peacekeeping presence in Somalia in various stages as part of the African Union Mission-IGAD or independently of both.
At times, Ethiopia has conducted ad hoc interventions outside of the African Union-IGAD mission in the Somali border area when the threat of Shabaab terrorism spillover has threatened the adjoining areas inside the Ethiopian territory.
From the policy framework, Ethiopia’s primary national security objective in Somalia is to prevent the expansion of Shabaab, religious and ethnic separatists, especially Oromo Liberation Front into the Ethiopian territory as well as provide some means of defence to the United Nations recognized Transitional Federal Government ( 2004-2012), and in its current form the Federal Government of Somalia (2012 to present).
In this respect, Ethiopia’s counter-insurgency activities in central Somalia during the last two decades significantly expanded in when the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa militia rose up against the Al-Shabaab terrorist movement for control over the main urban centers of Dhuusamaareb, Guriel and Matabaan.
Galmudug State is key to the success of the Horn Initiative
Increasingly it is apparent that the Galmudug State has become key to Ethiopia’s economic interests in relation to the current Horn Initiative supported by the World Bank and European Union .
To incur maximum benefits, Ethiopia should work toward expanding regional transportation and security cooperation and integration with Galmudug, Central Somalia and in the Horn of Africa as a whole.
Specifically, The Horn Initiative is especially beneficial for Ethiopia and Galmudug to “accelerate the growth engine, promote economic diversification, and expand regional trade”.
Galmudug is of huge geo-strategic importance. It is economically vital for Ethiopia to forge deep ties with the Galmudug population as the state contains abundant mineral deposits of uranium, precious metals and hydrocarbon natural gas off its coast. The flat terrain of Galmudug is ideal for the construction of transnational railroad and highway linkages between Ethiopia and central Somalia, especially through the Addis Ababa-Nazret Corridor.
My key recommendation for Ethiopia is to continue to forge linkages with the Federal Government of Somalia under President Hassan Sheikh Mahmud as well for the pacification of Somalia from the terrorist Al-Shabaab, especially in the Galmudug state. On the diplomatic and political fronts, Ethiopian government should focus on the following:
1. Ethiopia should work to attract the support of the local Galmudug population, especially the Habr Gedir.
2. The Ethiopian government should work closely with the Galmudug administration and the Federal Government of Somalia to hold joint economic forums to attract the needed investments as means for the prioritization of the Galmudug mineral sector with international partners, especially Italy and Germany.
3. The next presidential election in Galmudug in February 2024 is vital for the success of the above initiatives. Galmudug provides a conducive opportunity for Ethiopia to expand infrastructure linkages with central Somalia and the Indo-Pacific region. The construction of the transportation sector, especially the Addis Ababa- Nazret rail and road system to the Galmudug coast Haradheere and Hobyo is key to the materialization of the broader Horn Initiative programme.
Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com
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