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Horn of Africa Tension: Somalia’s President Engages UN Secretary-General Amidst Crisis in the region

President of Somalia
Somalian President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, speaking at the Somalian Parliament. Somalia sees Ethiopia’s engagement with Somaliland as a violation of its sovereignty (Photo : SM)


Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, initiated a phone conversation with the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

The spokesperson of the United Nations disclosed it on Wednesday on its official website.

“The Secretary-General spoke today with His Excellency, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, at his request,” the spokesperson wrote.

The Somalian president expressed his country’s concern regarding the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ethiopian government and the Somaliland government, which was announced on January 1, 2023.

Mr. Antonio Guterres has reportedly affirmed the Security Council’s stance concerning Somalia. The spokesperson cited him as saying that “…the Security Council has repeatedly affirmed its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity of Somalia.”

However, the Secretary-General has urged him to avoid actions that could further escalate tension in the region.

“The Secretary-General hopes all parties will engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue and refrain from any actions that could further escalate the situation,”  according to the news update from the office of the spokesperson. 

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called an emergency cabinet meeting soon after the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland was announced this year. Somalia sees the MoU as a violation of Somalia’s sovereignty.

This week, he traveled to Eritrea, where he had a two-day working visit. Eritrean Press, an Eritrean news source, cited him as saying that he has updated Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki about Somalia’s war on Al-Shabaab. He is also quoted as saying “… I also came to brief His Excellency about the recent dynamics of the region. Our region is a very volatile region. I just came to share with him the perspectives of Somalia about the region. So it was information-sharing and briefing to each other that we do frequently…” 

Before his trip to Eritrea, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud reportedly received a delegation from Egypt. Turkish Media outlet, Anadolu Agency, reported that “Hassan Sheikh Mohamud received an official invitation to visit Egypt.”

The Egyptian delegation is said to have expressed “Cairo’s ‘unwavering’ support for Somalia’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.” There have been reports in the past that Egypt has been making diplomatic efforts to get a military base in Somalia. Turkey has already had a military base in Somalia for several years now.

Ethiopia and Somaliland are yet to complete an agreement expressed in the Memorandum of Understanding which is said to happen in a month. If completed, Ethiopia will get 20 kilometers of coastal land in Somaliland for a military base and maritime commercial purposes on the basis of a 50-years lease. In return, Ethiopia will give up a portion of shares in national assets like Ethio-Telecom, among others, and recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country. Somaliland has been existing as an unrecognized state for more than thirty years. According to local reports, there are protests in parts of Somaliland opposing the deal with Ethiopia. 

The development has caused unprecedented tension in the region’s recent history. Fears of military conflict are growing as Somalia appears to be undergoing political, diplomatic, and military mobilization. State actors like Egypt seem to be keen on seizing the opportunity to engage Ethiopia militarily. There are unconfirmed reports that the Ethiopian government has moved troops along its border with Somalia. 

Ethiopia said the reaction to the MoU from different actors was not unexpected. The United States and European Union have urged a peaceful resolution of the difference between Ethiopia and Somalia.


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