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HomeOpinionEthiopia’s deal with Somaliland: What is all the hoopla about?

Ethiopia’s deal with Somaliland: What is all the hoopla about?

Ethiopia _ Somaliland _  Tibebe Samuel
Tibebe Samuel (file)

Part 1  

By Tibebe Samuel  Ferenji

“Resistance is a sign that shows you’re going the right way”  

Constance Friday  

Since Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, Ethiopia has made enormous progress. However, the  progress made is not without controversy or sabotage. For obvious reasons, the international  community, with its ill-contrived intention, seems to gang up on Ethiopia when Ethiopia makes  vital decisions to protect its national interest. When the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian Defense Force  Northern Command, it would have been expected that peace-loving nations support Ethiopia and  condemn the acts of aggression and betrayal of the TPLF. No country in the world would accept  such belligerent behavior. Instead of defending Ethiopia’s right to defend itself, from brainless  YouTubers to Western government and international organizations, high officials were busy  condemning Ethiopia, drafting sanctions, engaging in false propaganda, and other mischievous ways to damage Ethiopia’s economy and reputation.  

The so-called Human rights organizations and Mainstream Media were too busy  fabricating false narrations and covering up TPLF’s brutal massacre of innocent citizens and  infrastructure destruction. In the halls of the US Congress and EU, Ethiopia was treated as a pariah  without any justifications. In comparison, the same people who condemn Ethiopia for defending  itself are now standing with Israel, a country that has caused enormous suffering and destruction  that the world has not seen since the Second World War. These same people claim Hamas is  responsible for such destruction in Gaza but did not say the TPLF was responsible for the deaths  and destruction in Ethiopia. The same people who are tirelessly working to arm Israel to its teeth  were losing sleep to impose sanctions on Ethiopia and its allies.  

The “actors” like Linda Thomas Greenfield, Samantha Power, Gayle E Smith, Bob  Menendez, Chris Coons, Tom Malinowski, Brad Sherman, Joseph Borell, and others who  relentlessly campaigned against Ethiopia are not anywhere to be found when Israel’s Army  intentionally killed innocent children, bombed refugee camp, hospitals, and even UN facilities in  Gaza. Where are these voices when the Israeli military killed more than 100 UN employees and  several journalists? Ethiopia was condemned mercilessly for expelling 7 UN employees who  violated Ethiopia’s sovereignty. These hypocrites who are telling us that Israel has the right to  defend itself did not say Ethiopia has the right to defend itself when its military was attacked by  rogue elements. Instead, they stood on the side of the aggressors and the brutes who caused  enormous suffering and pain in Ethiopia for more than 40 years. Even then, their “House Ng*s”  defended the Westerners who waged a propaganda war against Ethiopia. There is an evil purpose  in all the hoopla we see today in the agreement made between Ethiopia and Somaliland when in  fact the agreement made is not any different from the agreement between other de facto States with  other sovereign nations.  

The world never made such noise when the UAE made a similar agreement with  Somaliland, and when the USA was treating Taiwan like any other sovereign country. These beg  the question why does the world make unnecessary noises when it comes to Ethiopia? The simple  answer is Ethiopia’s progress means, progress in Africa, progress in Africa means a loss of raw  materials to the Western world. Western governments, which are still in their colonialist mindset, don’t want any progress in Africa. Therefore, they use everything they have to keep Africa down.  Just like an abusive husband who tells his abused wife she is worthless, the Westerners, using their  propaganda machine have told Africans we are a “Hopeless” Continent (read the economists 

January 3, 2000 Headline where The Economist magazine referred to Africa as the “Hopeless  Continent.”) Africa has been described as the “Dark Continent” and other derogatory terms by the  Western World and their paid agents. Africa is treated with enormous contempt and disrespect by  International Organizations with malicious intentions to keep Africa in crisis mode.   Africa’s progress and its efforts are also eroded by Western-educated “intellectuals” who  are unable to free themselves from a “slave mentality”. Malcolm X calls such intellectuals and  pseudo-intellectuals “a House Ngs*”. This is precisely what we are witnessing in Ethiopian politics  today. A house Ngs* who asks “how High” when they are ordered to jump by their Western  Masters. Ethiopia’s internal enemies are extremist elements who are well-funded by external  forces. Fortunately for Ethiopia, these extremists are disorganized, visionless, and incapable of  thinking ahead. Some are people who made their names by making noise on their YouTube  channels. These demagogues suffer from a superiority complex and delusional state of mind. They  don’t even realize how ignorant they sound in their lack of knowledge of politics in general, and  geopolitics, economics, and military strategy in particular.  

Their deafening false narratives are easily disprovable and they are incapable of making  any real negative impact on Ethiopia’s progress. It is in such a noisy and hectic environment, Prime  Minister Abiy changed Ethiopia’s trajectory and set a new paradigm to make Ethiopia one of  Africa’s power houses. Prime Minister Abiy came to power with a new vision to change Ethiopia,  intending to establish a strong and prosperous middle-class society. Despite all the challenges, the  progress made in Ethiopia is beyond expectations. Ethiopia’s progress has angered some extremist  elements in and out of Ethiopia because the leader of the nation is from the Oromia region and a  follower of the evangelist religion. There are a few extremists who suffer from nostalgia for the  Amahara-Orthodox Christian dynasty and wholeheartedly believe they are the only one destined  to rule Ethiopia. Such laughable statements have been made repeatedly by the likes of Major Dawit  Woldegiorgis, Dr. Assefa Negash and others. These extremists have even enlisted priests to do  their dirty work.  

Unfortunately, some of our Eritrean brothers and sisters, including some Eritrean officials,  see Ethiopia’s progress as a threat. Some old-guard Eritrean officials believe Eritrea can only shine  if Ethiopia fails. Thus, they measure their progress in the hope of witnessing a failed State in  Ethiopia. It is with that in mind Ethiopia’s desire to have access to the Red Sea faced unprecedented  resistance by some Eritrean officials who keep scratching old wounds instead of moving on  towards a better relationship. Sadly, it is with this in mind they celebrated when Ethiopia’s  neighbors refused to deal with Ethiopia in its proposal to find access to the Red Sea Port. Some  are beating the war drums and their Western allies in the journalism profession are writing  headlines like “Another war looming in the Horn of Africa”. The Western Media is always quick  to condemn Ethiopia because it is a tool used by the Western governments that have an enormous  desire to destabilize Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a beacon of hope and a symbol of freedom to the Black  Race. These parasites view the failure of Ethiopia as a failure of the Black race. Therefore, they  will continue to paint a dark picture of Ethiopia despite the fact the light in Ethiopia is shining  from the corner of Borena to the Corner of Erob, and from the desert of Afar to the farmland of  Gonder.  

The notion that Ethiopia wants war in the Horn of Africa is a fabricated narrative designed  by the internal and external enemies of Ethiopia and echoed by their masters hoping to pull  Ethiopia to a destructive path. Ethiopia has no interest in engaging in war with anyone. Our defense  forces are ready as a deterrent for anyone who dares and has the desire to attack Ethiopia.  Mogadishu’s bravado and empty threats are nothing more than a cry for help from Ethiopia’s enemies. The Mogadishu government needs to be reminded that it is breathing with the “lungs“ of  the brave Ethiopian defense forces. Ethiopia’s children are sacrificing their lives to protect the  regime in Mogadishu. If Ethiopia has a desire to harm Somalia’s government or the Somalia  people, all Ethiopia has to do is pull out its peacekeeping force from Somalia. Somalia’s current  noise neither helps Somalia nor will stop Ethiopia’s effort to complete the deal made with  Somaliland. Somalia and the rest of the world must be reminded that we are the children of Adwa;  we will not violate anyone’s country’s sovereignty and will defend our sovereignty until the last  drop of our blood.  

Instead of engaging in unnecessary and unproductive propaganda, It would be wise,  particularly for Ethiopia’s neighbors, to think about working together to bring about serious  economic and political progress in East Africa. Such cooperation will benefit all countries in East  Africa. Ethiopia’s agreement with Somaliland does not hurt anyone, rather, it benefits both  Ethiopia and Somaliland. Ethiopia’s economic development also means more purchasing power  to its citizens that can benefit other African nations. This writer argues Ethiopia’s agreement with  Somaliland is legal, beneficial, and normal in our world.  

What is Somaliland’s status in the world?  

First, we must understand how Somaliland is established as a separate territory from the  rest of Somalia to understand the agreement made between Ethiopia and Somaliland. Mollie  Zapata in his article published on January 31, 2012, titled “Somalia: Colonialism to Independence  to Dictatorship,1840-1976” states “Between 1840 and 1886, the British East India Company  established a series of trade treaties with various Somali chiefs. Italy also had a hand in the early  establishment of Somalia and marked out the boundaries of Italian Somaliland in the south  between 1897 and 1908”. Zapata further states “During WWII Great Britain also took over these  areas and ruled them as military protectorates until 1949, at which time the newly formed United  Nations granted Italy a trusteeship over most of present-day Somalia. The British maintained a  trusteeship over what is today the self-declared state of Somaliland”. We learn from Zapata’s article  and the history of Somaliland, that during the colonial era, Somaliland was under the British while  the rest of Somalia was under the Italians. In 1960, when Somaliland declared independence, it  established its own government and administrative system. It was five days later that Somaliland  voluntarily joined the rest of Somalia that merged the State of Somaliland with Italian Somaliland  to form the Republic of Somalia on July 1, 1960. Even when the Republic of Somalia was formed,  Somaliland enjoyed a different system of government and administrative apparatus than the rest  of Somalia. It is when Mohamed Siad Barre took power over Somalia, he constituted a “Socialist  system” that changed the Somaliland governance and made it similar with the rest of Somalia.  

In January 1991, when the Siad Barre regime collapsed, the citizens of Somalia could not  come up with a practical solution to build a government that could control and administer Somalia.  The World Peace Organization in its report titled “Somali Civil War” stated “The fall of Said  Barre’s regime and the Somali Civil War created a power vacuum in which nationalist and Islamic  groups, warlords, clan and sub-clan militias and other actors aimed to carve out swathes of territory  for their own governance. Subsequently, regional and international institutions initiated various  peace and reconciliation processes in an attempt to create a stable and robust federal government,  with various degrees of success. The inter-clan rivalries have fueled the tension between the  Federal government and the regional states, making the consensus and state-building, as well as  peacebuilding, process strenuous. The chaos resulted in the declaration of independence by Somaliland in 1991, though still not recognized by any nation in the world, and Somalia maintains  its authority over the northern territory”.  

It is such chaos that created the path for the rebirth of Somaliland. Since 1991, the territory  has been governed by democratically elected governments that seek international recognition as  the government of the Republic of Somaliland. So far, Taiwan, known as the Republic of China  (not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China) has recognized Somaliland. Taiwan is  also another de facto State that is seeking recognition by a UN member sovereign country. Thus,  the next question is how a de facto State like Somaliland can get recognition.  

Way forward for Somaliland sovereignty:  

As indicated above, A de facto State is a territory that has a government not recognized as  a sovereign country by the United Nations and other regional organizations. These de facto States  can become sovereign countries if they fulfill certain criteria put by the UN. These criteria include  having territory that the state controls effectively, a permanent population, a government, and a  capacity to enter into relations with other states. Although the United Nations has put these criteria;  Lassa Oppenheim and Ronald Roxburgh in their book titled “International Law, a Treatise” stated “International Law does not say that a State is not in existence as long as it is not recognized,  but it takes no notice of it before its recognition. Through recognition only and exclusively a State  becomes an International Person and a subject of International Law.” Moreover, author  Christopher Greenwood, in Israel YearBook on Human Rights, published in 1989, cited the  recognition of the Polish that did not exist then and Czechoslovak states in World War I and  explained that “since recognition of statehood is a matter of discretion, it is open to any existing  State to accept as a state any entity it wishes, regardless of the existence of territory or an  established government”. It is worth noting that the United States recognized Poland as a sovereign  country in January 1919 without all the drama we see against Ethiopia for potential recognition of  Somaliland.  

According to many scholars, There are two theories recognized by the United Nations that  constitute a State, the Constitutive theory and the Declarative theory. The purpose of this article is  not to explain these theories but rather to point out to those who jump onto a broken bandwagon  to condemn Ethiopia to open their eyes and see Ethiopia and Somaliland agreement from  different angles before jumping to a wrong conclusion. Although there are acceptable norms within  the international community in dealing with a de facto state. Neither Ethiopia nor any nation is  obligated to follow the UN’s criteria according to Tim Hillier’s book titled “Sourcebook on Public  International Law”. Tim states “A state may use any criteria when judging if they should give  recognition and they have no obligation to use such criteria. Many states may only recognize  another state if it is to their advantage”. It is with the criteria set by the UN that Somaliland  petitioned the African Union to recognize it as a sovereign country.  

According to the African Union (AU) record, the AU took the issue of Somaliland’s  independence in 2005 and sent a fact-finding mission. The mission concluded that “Somaliland’s  search for recognition [is] historically unique and self-justified in African political history,”  (emphasis added) and it urged the AU to take up the issue with the governments in Mogadishu and  Hargeisa without delay. Unfortunately, it has taken more than 18 years for AU to act on  Somaliland’s petition for independence. Since 1991 Somaliland has functioned with a government  that is capable of administering its affairs, before the current Republic of Somalia was established  with the backing of the international community in 2012. It is not clear why the international 

The community has made an enormous effort to support the ill-equipped Somalia to govern itself and  failed to recognize a territory that has functioned for years as a stable and democratically elected  government. For all practical purposes, AU’s failure to act did not deter Somaliland from making  agreements with other nations. Somaliland signed an agreement with the U.A.E. allowing the  U.A.E to establish a military base in Somaliland. The agreement between UAE and Somaliland  did not attract such opposition and uproar from Somalia and neighboring countries. Again, one  must ask why all these noises are made against Ethiopia by Somalia and its neighbors?  

Somaliland has two deals with the UAE. According to the VOA May 17, 2015 report  “Somaliland signed a deal with a UAE international port operator DP World. That deal would  upgrade the port of Berbera, the largest in Somaliland”. The second agreement was between the  UAE government and Somaliland. The agreement calls for the UAE to operate a base in Berbera  for 25 years. According to the VOA, Somalis Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah indicated that  UAE bribed both the Somali and Somaliland officials for this agreement to go through. The  accusation was never proven. Except for a few Somali officials and opposition political parties in  Somaliland, we did not see protests, threats of war, and international campaigns to condemn the  agreement. It is an enigma to witness such a resistance for Ethiopia’s desire to have access to the  sea that will benefit not only Ethiopia and Somaliland but also the entire Horn of Africa. Why is  this all-drama necessary when it comes to the Ethiopia and Somaliland deal?  

 As indicated, Somaliland and Ethiopia’s deal is not the first agreement between a de facto  State and a sovereign country. Taiwan, a de facto state, also has made several agreements with  other sovereign countries. In fact, in 1996, Gambia recognized Taiwan as a Republic of China.  This recognition angered China and cut its diplomatic ties with Gambia. Gambia’s recognition of  Taiwan did not create the drama that we are witnessing today when the chance for Ethiopia to  recognize Somaliland came to light. (to be continued). 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of 


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  1. My God, stop fellating Abiy. Get up off your knees and wipe your mouth, have some dignity man.

    Starting off your “article” with a statement about Abiy’s “leadership” and “progress”, that you don’t even attempt to qualify, is laughable.

    Your piece reads highly defensive, written from a loser’s perspective. Hope this isn’t your full time job, bud. If so you should try another line of work, and if not, spend your time doing something productive instead of bending over for Abiy full spread.

  2. 1. can I ask you one question? would you accept if Eritrea signed a MoU with Tigray region when Tigray region announced as a de facto state before 3 years on the way to become a nation (country) and Eritrea recognizing Tigray as a nation? what would you say or feel then? Put yourself in that position or shoes.
    2. what the Eritrean government and people did during the worst situation regarding Ethiopian integrity is not a secret! Have you forgotten your PM saying “YEQURT GZIE WENDMOCH” When Eritrea stand by Ethiopia during the worst times? Those lunatic Woyanes would have seized the power in 4 kilo. And do the aftermath. your liar PM have then said “what the Eritrean government and people have done will not be forgotten and will stand with them forever”. And now the tone have changed and saying that Eritrea is working to weaken Ethiopia! what a joke! please stop point fingers at others when your PM and his cubs are doing it on Ethiopia. don’t put a blind eye.
    3. Ethiopia is very far rich extremely wealthy regarding its resources. but how many of ethiopians are in a brink of famine? and what about safety and security of Ethiopians? how is your economy? (Please don’t say Ethiopia is going on the right economical growth). Ethiopia has two folds number of population and 5 folds of land size than that of the united kingdom. The UK do not have such resources as such of Ethiopia. but how is Ethiopia known world wide? The ICON for Famine. lookup Wikipedia. With a right management, administration and governance, Ethiopia and Ethiopians wouldn’t need a sea port! Ethiopia has every thing within her. please use that first! with such resources, it is really a shame to see Ethiopia and Ethiopians looking for Food AID for centuries
    4 do you think having a sea coast will make you greater? how many countries have a large sea coast? and how many are great? Do you think having a Navy would make you greater? do you even know how much it costs to build a Navy? how much it would cost to run a navy? I have seen some dumb mind Ethiopians arguing about the current situation on the red sea (Houthi rebels) and saying that if Ethiopia was there that wouldn’t have happened! Ha! Do you even know the number of world leading countries residing in Djibouti with a naval and military base? USA, China, Turkeye, UK, France and others. and the rebels are doing it right under their nose! what makes you think you can control this situation?

  3. 《 Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. 》
    Samuel Johnson in Rasselas (Prince of Abyssinia)

    For example, what happened to the difference between “to have / to control” and “to acces “? Did they become synonymous in a span of one month?

    In Dec 09, the author wrote, “Dr. Abiy was talking about the need for Ethiopia to have not just access to the Red Sea but to have a port that Ethiopia could control.” Under the opinion piece entitled ‘Ethiopia’s quest for Erythraean Sea  (Red Sea) is not a quest for Eritrea’

    January 14, the author is writing, talking about Eritrean officials, “…. Sadly, it is with this in mind they celebrated when Ethiopia’s  neighbors refused to deal with Ethiopia in its proposal to find access to the Red Sea Port. …”

    This reminds of the tigrigna adage “ክውዕየካ ብማንካ ክዝሕለካ ብኢድካ” (በሹካ ሲሞቅ፡ በእጅ ሳይሞቅ).

  4. The progress made is ethiopia is beyond expectations.What progress you mean IDP,number of death,drone strikes inflation or what??????Stop teasing!

  5. More of the same Seyoum Teshome in a suite and presenting a well polished column which is, as expected, beset with cherry picking, and atrocious fallacies that trigger cognitive dissonance- Ethiopia’s Progress while in truth it has badly regressed; glorifying alternative facts- Abiy portrayed as a visionary leader while in truth he has been a mindbogglingly imbecile and harbinger of mayhem; and a display of pathetic acrobatics to justify the unjustifiable- Abiy is seeking peaceful sea access while in truth he is risking war by violating Somalia’s territorial integrity. Piling up any amount of paragraphs and linguistics wont change the fact that, at the present, Somalialind is part of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Hence, the corridors that go to Somaliland should pass through Mogadishu.
    Such violation has been the pattern of the ruthless, sociopathic and accidental leader-Abiy. He is not expected to honor international norms while committing genocide in Amhara and showing utter disregard to Amhara, Tigray, Oromo, Afar, citizens suffering in famine and IDPs.

    SMH, either you are someone who looks at the world upside down, a sociopath like Abiy, or that you are peacocking for Abiy’s attention. Either way, what you are doing is political prostitution.

    I am still trying to locate where/who Gambia vs Taiwan are and their relevance to the Geopolitically intertwined Ethiopia and Somalia.

  6. As usual excellent piece by out patriot brother Obbo Tibebe. I have been asking the same question he has. Why wasn’t a commotion with same intensity when DP World leased(bought) the Berbera port in 2016? Right after DP World’s acquisition Ethiopia had bought a 19% share in the DP World Berbera company. DP World is a U.A.E. entity. Is that because U.A.E. is an Arab country? They can scrub their faces, necks, chests and arms with chemical agents to whiten their skins, Somalis are just as blacks as the rest of Horn of Africans and all Africans for that matter. To that jalabi donning bigot in the Arabian Peninsula, every Horn of African or African in general is an ‘abd’, a nigger.

    I have another question for you. It is a historically proved fact that Arabs from that peninsula were involved in the slave trade for more than thousand years. They were in the trade before the Portuguese and Spanish started hauling away Africans as slaves to the Americas beginning the 16th century. But the Arabs were in the trade going back to the 8th century. It is reported that 12 million Africans were forcefully taken away from their homes and sold as slaves in the New World. Those 12 million original slave now have more than 50 million descendants living everywhere in the Americas. The Arabs were taking Africans as slaves to the tune of 50,000 during several years across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Tens of millions of Africans were taken as slaves across the ocean to the Arabian Peninsula. You should ask where their descendants are now. What have they done with them? I don’t wanna refer to some of the folklores from the Arabian Arabian Peninsula. No I prefer not because that will boil your blood. But I will be asking the cardinal question: What had they done to my African brothers and sisters they took away as slaves? I don’t see that many colored folks except tge recent migrants in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and Iraq. According to some conservative estimates at least 20 million Africans were taken as slaves to the peninsula since the 9th century. Where are their descendants now? I better stop asking that question because it may boil your blood beyond you are able to control it. But the sad effect is some among us are still willing to bend over for the former slave masters.

  7. This is nonsense. The argument or story has no kegs and legimacy that is why the regional and international communities against it. What do you think if eritrea or somalia recognizes the Tigrai or Somalia region to secede and makes MOU agreement. No country wants to involves in such short-sighted political move that bits back instantly in return. This will happen sooner than if the infantile and embecile Abiy unrelented from this policy adventure and charted territory He has to learn yet one or two things how the diplomacy the international legal order works.

  8. Make that: The Arabs were taking Africans as slaves to the tune of 50,000 every year for several years across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

    • What you have to answer is: Did UAE recognize Somaliland as a Nation when it dealt with it through DP World? Why try to confuse? Because Abiy will get Port for Oromuma. Who cares for the international order which is established by the West? Colonial boundary issue has both pros and cons but it is better than what Abiy is doing to dismantle it.

      • Yes, if not official. Did U.A.E. had to get permission from Somalia in 2016 for its Berbera acquisition? If yes, then Somalia is playing a double standard. Did U.A.E. never sought and obtained permission from Somalia then? If no, then that spells a qualified recognition. Remember port acquisition is an ordinary business transaction like trading rice and be paid in livestock. It is owning a landmass and a swath of seashore. Arabs yes but black folks, no! You think those segregated lunch counters from the 1960’s South are long gone. How wrong you are! But this lunch counter is claimed by black folks. John Lewis is turning is his grave when he hears this. Bend over for Arabs but lance rattling for fellow black folks! Gitlow is still alive and kicking!

  9. A little more cleaned version.

    Yes, if not official. Did U.A.E. had to get permission from Somalia in 2016 for its Berbera acquisition? If yes, then Somalia is playing a double standard. Did U.A.E. never seek and obtained permission from Somalia then? If no, then that spells a qualified recognition. Remember port acquisition is not an ordinary business transaction like trading rice and be paid in livestock. It is owning a landmass and a swath of seashore. Arabs yes but black folks, no! You think those segregated lunch counters from the 1960’s South are long gone. How wrong you are! But this lunch counter is claimed by black folks. John Lewis is turning is his grave when he hears this. Bend over for Arabs but lance rattling for fellow black folks! Gitlow is still alive and kicking!

    • The 2016 deal did not materialize. UAE is using Ethiopia as a proxy and giving the port effort a second go, wake up and smell the coffee


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