Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has on Saturday arrived in Egypt for a two days working visit. Egyptian news sources reported that the Egyptian president initiated the visit.
He will be meeting with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ,Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, according to Egyptian news sources. Earlier in this week, the Arab League issued a statement in response to the MoU agreement between Ethiopia and Somalia – supporting Somalian position. Somalia sees it as a “violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported Hassan Sheik expressed gratitude to the Arab League for “opposing Ethiopia’s ill intentions and Supporting Somalia’s territorial integrity.”
Al-Azhar, Sunni Islamic institution based in Cairo, expressed full “solidarity with Somalia in preserving its territorial unity, condemning external attempts to destabilize it,” as reported by Ahram.
Ilyas Sheikh Omar, Somali Ambassador to Egypt, sees the visit as “an opportunity” for Egypt and Somalia to “coordinate” response to what Egyptian news sources described as “crisis in Somalia.” Egyptian news source cited him as saying that Egypt is a ” reliable partner in the face of Ethiopian aggression.”
The Somali President visited Eritrea and then attended the IGAD meeting in Kampala this week before he traveled to Egypt – with invitation from the Egyptian president. Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki is also invited to visit Cairo.
From the diplomatic activities Egypt has been making in recent weeks, it seems to be capitalizing on the alleged tension between Ethiopia and Somalia after the signing of MOU between Ethiopia and the breakaway region – Somaliland which Somalia still considers as Northern Somalia despite over thirty years of existence as a de facto state. From multiple reports, Egypt is apparently primarily interested in “coordinating” a response to Ethiopian aggression.
Egypt and Ethiopia have been having a rather unfriendly diplomatic relation due to the Mega dam that Ethiopia has been building on the Nile River. Egypt has been claiming a monopoly over the Nile river citing a colonial era agreement to which Ethiopia was not a party. There have been reported efforts that Egypt has been attempting to acquire a military base in Somalia. It is unclear if it is one of the items to be discussed in his meeting with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The AU, the EU, United States and United Nations urged Ethiopia and Somalia to resolve differences through peaceful means as the prospect of conflict between the two nations became a concern.
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