Thursday, April 18, 2024
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National Dreams, Uncertain Reality: Ethiopia’s Red Sea Ambitions Test the Horn’s Fragile Peace

By Dayib sheikh Ahmed

The Horn of Africa stands on the precipice of another turbulent chapter. The Ethiopia-Somaliland deal, a geopolitical earthquake masquerading as a port agreement, has fractured the fragile tapestry of regional stability, igniting tensions and threatening to engulf the entire Horn in a maelstrom of territorial disputes, counterterrorism concerns, and geopolitical machinations. This brewing tempest casts a long shadow, its ominous rumblings echoing across the parched plains and echoing within the souls of millions who yearn for peace.

The Horn of Africa map

At the heart of this storm lies the ever-present issue of sovereignty. Somalia, with unwavering conviction, views Somaliland as an integral part of its national tapestry, a claim bolstered by the international community’s non-recognition of the breakaway state. Ethiopia, however, has chosen to play a dangerous game of realpolitik, bypassing the Federal Government of Somalia in its pursuit of a Red Sea foothold. This brazen act of political pirouette has not only violated Somalia’s territorial integrity but also ignited the embers of regional tensions, threatening to reignite old rivalries and plunge the Horn into a vortex of instability.

Beyond the immediate question of territory lies the specter of resurgent terrorism. Al-Shabaab, the region’s Hydra-headed monster, thrives on instability and fractured authority. The power vacuum created by the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal presents a golden opportunity for Al-Shabaab to expand its tentacles, its reign of terror potentially eclipsing the shadows of past atrocities. Such a scenario would not only jeopardize Somalia’s fragile security but also threaten vital international interests, casting a long, dark shadow across the global stage.

The Ethiopian government’s desperation for a Red Sea outlet is a symptom of its own internal turmoil. Beset by economic woes, ethnic strife, and simmering internal conflicts, Abiy Ahmed’s regime appears to be grasping at straws, sacrificing regional stability on the altar of political expediency. This opportunistic foreign policy not only undermines regional security but also erodes Ethiopia’s international standing, exposing its disregard for established norms and its willingness to prioritize short-term gains over long-term peace. But Somalia, facing a significant political and territorial dispute with Ethiopia, has opted for a diplomatic approach. They condemn the agreement, seek support from various international bodies, and aim to preserve their territorial integrity while holding Ethiopia accountable.

However. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is currently under intense scrutiny due to allegations of dictatorial tendencies, nepotism and corruption within his administration, raising significant concerns about the government’s ability to mobilize resources and address numerous challenges. One major criticism against President Mohamud is the perceived lack of transparency and action in combating corruption, favoritism and micromanagement. Despite pledging to address these issues during his candidacy, little progress seems to have been made, undermining public trust in the government’s governance capabilities.

Additionally, the lack of accountability exacerbates existing challenges and hinders efforts to build strong institutions and a reliable judicial system, crucial for upholding the rule of law. Persistent allegations of corruption further damage the government’s credibility domestically and internationally, reducing its likelihood of receiving support from people living around Somalia. This lack of external support compounds the nation’s challenges, hindering efforts to address pressing issues like poverty and insecurity. Some critics argue that President Mohamud has taken on multiple roles, including those of prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and minister internal security, further complicating governance and exacerbating concerns about effective leadership for instance, while this cautious strategy is praiseworthy, it may not be adequate to address the stubbornness of Ethiopia and the defiance of Somaliland.

The international community now faces a critical juncture. It must act with resolve and a unified voice to prevent the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal from unleashing its full destructive potential. A multi-pronged approach is essential. Increased diplomatic pressure, targeted sanctions on key figures and entities in both Ethiopia and Somaliland, and unwavering support for Somalia’s legitimate government are all tools that can be wielded to deter further escalation and uphold international norms. The international community must anticipate and be prepared for even unfavorable outcomes. If diplomacy proves ineffective, and the risk of regional conflict escalates, the possibility of a change in leadership within Ethiopia cannot be entirely disregarded. However, it’s crucial to note that this does not equate to advocating for such a shift. A new Ethiopian government, one committed to regional cooperation and divested from the current opportunistic approach, could potentially offer a renewed opportunity for engagement with Somalia. This reengagement could bring about an agreement that respects Somali sovereignty and fosters regional stability.

The choices made in the coming months will determine whether the Horn of Africa navigates through this brewing tempest or succumbs to its destructive winds. Through decisive action, unwavering commitment to peace and stability, and a willingness to explore even unpalatable options, the international community can help steer the region towards a brighter horizon. Such a horizon would be one where territorial integrity is respected, counterterrorism efforts are bolstered, and the aspirations of peace-loving populations across the Horn can finally flourish. The world must watch with vigilance and act with purpose, for the fate of the Horn hangs in the balance. The time for empty pronouncements and platitudes is over. The time for decisive action is now. The Horn of Africa, a region long accustomed to the winds of conflict, is waiting with bated breath. Will the international community heed its silent plea and help navigate the storm, or will they stand idly by as the tempest engulfs the region in chaos? The answer, etched in the sands of time, awaits.


The Horn of Africa teeters on a precipice, caught between the brewing tempest of conflict and the fragile hope for a brighter future. The choices made in the coming months will decide its fate. The international community stands at a crossroads, wielding the power to either steer the region towards stability or watch it succumb to chaos. This is not a time for passive observation or empty pronouncements. Decisive action is paramount. A firm commitment to peace and stability must guide every step, even when confronted with unpalatable options. Respect for territorial integrity is non-negotiable. Counterterrorism efforts must be bolstered, not undermined. And above all, the aspirations of the region’s peace-loving populations must be heard and championed.

The world cannot afford to be a bystander. Vigilant watchfulness is crucial, but action is the true mark of leadership. The sands of time are shifting, and the answer to the Horn’s silent plea waits to be written. Will the international community rise to the challenge, navigate the storm, and help bring about a brighter horizon? Or will it stand idly by and witness the region descend into darkness? The choice, stark and consequential, lies before us. Let us choose wisely, for the fate of the Horn of Africa hangs in the balance.

Dayib sheikh Ahmed (Faracadde)
Email: [email protected]

Related articles:

1.The disastrous effects of the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU By Dr. Baadiyow

2 .State decay: The case of Ethiopia and the Somali demand for self-determination By Faisal Roble

3. Repercussions of acrimony: Al shabaab receives new year’s gift from Ethiopia By Adam Aw Hirsi

4. Ethiopia-Somaliland deal: A threat to Somalia and regional stability in the horn of Africa By Ahmed I.

5. Into the abyss: Somalia to become the century’s Armageddon theatre By Adan Ismail

6. Somalia triumphs in diplomacy: Safeguarding sovereignty By Aydarus Ahmed 

7. Countering the dangerous ideology of PM Abiy Ahmed By A Baadiyow

8. Somalia must reconsider its policy towards Somaliland amidst the Ethio-Somaliland MoU By M.Rage

9 .What will become of Abiy Ahmed’s ‘acts of aggression’ against the Somali people? By Dr Aweys O.

10. A pact cast adrift: Navigating the legal maelstrom of the Ethio-Somaliland accord By Dayib Sh. Ahmed

11. The escalating Ethiopia-Somalia rift: A precarious path to conflict By Hassan Tahir  

12Has Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed failed history at the school? failure in history may lead him to failure in leadership By Prof Abdisalam M. Issa-Salwe and Abdullahi Salah Osman

13. Abiy Ahmed’s MoU with Muse Bihi threatens Horn of Africa stability By Abdirahman Baadiyow

14-Calculated ambiguity: A sovereign port, access to the sea or a naval base? By Prof Ezekiel Gebissa

15-The historical search for a sea outlet and leadership legacy By Faisal A Roble

16 .Ethiopia and Somaliland deal: A declaration of war against Somalia By Hassan Zaylai

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