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HomeOpinionMisinterpreted Promises and Deceptive Tactics: The Somaliland-Ethiopia MOU Fallout

Misinterpreted Promises and Deceptive Tactics: The Somaliland-Ethiopia MOU Fallout

Somaliland-Ethiopia MOU
Andargachew Tsege ( from Twitter)

By Andargachew Tsege

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU 01/01/24) between Somaliland and Ethiopia took many by surprise. It was sudden and dramatic. The world interpreted the MOU’s significance as Ethiopia’s commitment to recognize Somaliland’s sovereignty in exchange for access to a coastline along the Gulf of Arabia. This coastal access was emphasized, underlining Ethiopia’s potential for economic and naval utilization.

President Muse of Somaliland was explicit in his remarks, conveying through translated Somali words that Ethiopia would acknowledge Somaliland as a sovereign nation. However, a sense of discomfort was apparent on PM Abiy Ahmed’s face as the Somaliland president joyfully announced securing Ethiopia’s recognition for his nation at the joint press conference.

Subsequent developments, especially this morning’s (03/01/2024) state communication’s press release, shed light on the tension at the joint press conference. Abiy was aware that what the Somaliland President believed to be true was inaccurate and was also clear of the chaotic reactions that would follow President Muse’s pronouncements.

The reaction was undeniably chaotic and far-reaching. For Abiy Ahmed, aiming to generate considerable attention, the extent of the reaction must have been immensely satisfying. Ethiopia had, in fact, only pledged to review Somaliland’s request for recognition, a stark contrast to the Somaliland president’s interpretation.

In Addis Ababa and Hargeisa, both leaders sought to leverage the MOU signing for their respective advantages. President Musa, unaware of Abiy’s deceptive nature, genuinely believed Ethiopia’s imminent recognition and encouraged his people to celebrate the prospect of joining the international community as equals among nations.

Meanwhile, in Addis Ababa, Abiy, cognizant of the deal’s lack of novelty or significance, spun a narrative beyond belief to divert attention from his faltering regime.

Why then do we assert that the MOU contained nothing extraordinary? The government of Abiy had to deploy its propaganda machinery at full throttle, flooding the streets with honking party cadres’ cars and ululations from street-sweeping women. It’s noteworthy that many countries with extensive coastlines struggle to capitalize on them for generating wealth, making the arrangement of leasing coastal lines mutually beneficial.

Crucially, this arrangement does not constitute a permanent cession of territory from Somaliland to Ethiopia. Instead, it signifies an agreement facilitated by Somaliland, where the land between the coast and the Ethiopian border falls under Somaliland’s jurisdiction. This contradicts Abiy Ahmed’s narrative of Ethiopia’s natural border extending to the sea, particularly the Red Sea. The agreement doesn’t involve Ethiopia claiming someone else’s coastline but rather gaining access to a seacoast under Somaliland’s governance. 

The economic benefits accruing to Somaliland from leasing their idle coastline could be seen as an unexpected windfall. However, despite this, the complete fruition of the agreement is yet to be witnessed, especially in light of the recent disclosure of deception surrounding the pact.

In the aftermath, as the dust settled, what remained was a deceived and naive Somaliland president and a Prime Minister who, at least in this instance, attempted to deceive the public using a strategy of hoodwinking and obfuscation, gloating at his skill in the art of deception.

The entire MOU affair seems almost surreal, as if it were orchestrated specifically to divert attention from the edict issued by Bishop Lukas against PM Abiy—an incident that has left him and his Rasputin-like figure within the palace visibly unsettled. Intriguingly, following the Bishop’s edict, this morning saw 27 fully armed republican guards assigned at Kombolcha airport reportedly joining the Fano movement. Abiy’s calculated maneuver also aimed to overshadow the horrifying news of the tragic murders of Christian pilgrims near Addis Ababa. These pilgrims were returning from St. Gabriel’s annual celebration at Kulbi in Harar.

The question persists: how long can Abiy’s deceitful propaganda sustain his ailing regime, especially in the wake of such controversies and tragedies?

Editor’s note : the article was first published on the personal social media page of Andargachew Tsege on January 3, 2022


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  1. MOU is MOU. It is not a binding treaty. We have seen countries and even companies announcing MOU’s with their counterparts. It may or may not materialize. But this one is an attention getter and could jolt the friendly foundation laid down between Somalia and Ethiopia with the lives of thousands of young Ethiopians since 1991. The people of Somaliland don’t seem to receptive to the status of the old days. It has become for the UN & AU something they can live with or without it. It is dilemma. I think the best alternative is for the two nations, Ethiopia and Somalia, to sit down and a sensible pow wow and come up with a long term plan. Stupid tension will not cut the mustard. As far as Eritrea, I don’t think the regime in Asmara will budge. There is this sense of ‘revenge’. That one is slam closed. It is sad but true.

    • “Stupid tension will not cut the mustard”

      Well, when you have the stupidest, sick, lying man, Abiy Ahmed,. in charge, there would only be tensions, more tensions, and nothing would cut the mustard. Abiy the Village idiot knows only theatrics, stupid theatrics, nothing of substance.

      We must get rid of the idiot, Abiy Ahmed, only then, and then there would be sensibility, peace not only in Ethiopia, also in the horn of Africa.

      As the Patriarch said recently, there must be someone who would take out the butcher of Addis, take him out soon.

      That way a lot of people would sleep easy1!!

  2. Another piece of abomination from the usual suspect coated with sugar to reflect deeply rooted hate against individual. Does not take into consideration the big issue the country is aspiring for. The MOU is just a start of a long journey and the implementation is not expected to be practical without drawbacks. Its only been five days since the signing, be patient!!!!

    • Seid G, You must be as comedian as your man Abiy Ahmed, the Village Idiot!!!

      MOU with a nonexistent country, just the thing Ethiopia needs.

      The article is very good, what is abomination is there are those who think like you, those who think the whole thing is nothing other than Abiy’s ploy to distract the nation.

  3. Andargachew,
    You nailed it. What’s the big fuss about leasing a sea outlet under the jurisdiction of Somaliland? It’s like renting an apartment or a house. Do you dance for getting a rental house? Abiy Ahmed could have achieved the same agreement with Eritrea. All he needed to do was behave well and use diplomatic words, not all sorts of bravado.

  4. Muse Bihi him self does not control northern somalia and unionist tribes control much of the east, also now the ciise and awdal in the west took their arms to oust his administration . so he is in despperate mode.


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