Ethiopia’s pursuit of the sea coast has revived. The nation that has been one of the major sea-farers in human history has finally overcome its begotten sea blindness to seek permanent presence, albeit at a modest level, on the coasts in its doorstep. The country’s ruling group that has built a taboo over the topic of Ethiopia’s Seagate has changed its course. This upsets the status-quo and befalls as a grim surprise, those that built livelihood on Ethiopia’s landlocked status.
Ethiopia’s pursuit, expectedly, is received upon declaration by excitement, confusion, opposition, condemnation, provocation and a range of other mixed reactions. The most dramatic fury came from the Arab world. This group that is under the diplomatic hostage of Egypt, unreservedly condemned Ethiopia. Bear in mind, this group is crippled by the corrupt and greed driven policy of Egypt that could not even guide, some would say deliberately blocked, resolution of the Palestine – Israel conflict for the past seventy-five years.
The Group is also under the grip of dwindling political relevance and economic future, mainly as a result of the impending phasing out of fossil fuel that forms the backbone of the easy money driven economy of the countries of the Middle east. One of the strategies the Arab countries adopted to diversify their economic resources is monopolizing global trade logistics, including through procuring ports and sea gates. The first spot that caught their myopic sight is the Eastern Shore of Africa in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Their tactic to control these strategic sea passages is taken from the age-old book of colonization and exploitation. They invest their oil cash to buy local lords, religious fanatics and terror groups, fragile governments and their officials in exchange for taking over coastal territories. Therefore, Ethiopia or any other African country, including the coastal states themselves, seeking to establish coastal capability is an unwanted competition and threat to their monopoly. Hence, the Arab World should be expected to spew hostilities, and scale up investments in terror and mercenaryism of all kinds until Africa takes concrete action to free its coastline. As has been seen, this is not a matter that can be left to the currently coastal states only.
Ethiopia’s action to establish presence in the Eastern Shores of Africa must be backed by the African continent. Not only that, the African Union should quickly follow it up by establishing the African Shipping and Logistics Company and Naval Force, as espoused under Agenda 2063 and the AU Maritime Strategy 2050. The economic, security and political case for such initiative is immense. One among this, that is rooted in the prevailing circumstances of the region is the fast-growing scramble for Africa’s coast. Unless Africa acts immediately, it is bound to lose any sovereign control over its coast to the countries that are pouring their oil cash to take over the continent’s eastern shore. The fast moving scramble for Africa’s coast will make Africa Sea locked and deprive it of any global economic and security gains it should realize for itself, with its own investment.
This said, the heart of our strength lies in our internal cohesion. The political class in the party that ruled Ethiopia over the past three decades, in power or disgruntled, that grew on and paid homage to Ethiopia’s ill-fated landlocked status, must quickly reverse course and catch up with the new reality. The ruling Party must understand its cadres are bound to lack initiative and tact in leading the grand agenda of its leadership. Hence, it must make this cause a cross-cutting national agenda free from undue credit hunting. Everyone that is part of the generation, despite political standing, that has agreed, acquiesced or has not protested enough, when the country was rendered landlocked should look at this phenomenon as an opportunity to compensate Ethiopia. The modest initiative announced on January 1, 2024 is one among the many options. With our unity, the legion led by Egypt can continue its evil chorus, however it, as usual, should have no impact on the journey Ethiopia is bound to complete using peaceful and negotiated means.
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