By Ahmed Ugaas
Annexation of Somalia’s territorial waters will resuscitate terrorism from the brink of death.
During the quarter century that followed Sr. Bush administration and his New World Order, the world had witnessed the rise of extremism in parts of the world and the decline of tyranny in others. The fall of dictatorial regimes and the rise of democratic ideals had mixed results in the Arab world and beyond. While democracy brought forth a progress in the participation of political process and individual liberty, it also gave religious fundamentalists an excuse to spread extremist ideas.
Since Trump administration took office, terrorism has subsided but violence caused by expansionist and especial interest groups had increased. Many countries such as UAE, KSA, Qatar, and Ethiopia had, in the pretense of fighting against terrorism, incited wars in Middle East and parts of Africa to spread their ideals or achieve their own strategic interests.
Qatar, who practices Wahhabi sector of Islam, had successfully invested in Somalia’s election to influence Somalia’s presidential bid in 2017. It had financed the election and tilted the balance towards the unlikely candidate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s side. The representative of Qatar’s interest in Somalia, Fahad Yasin, the so called owner of the Somali government and the president’s chief of staff, is a member of Al-Ictisam (former Al-Itihad Wahhabis) and was a Jihadist who fought and get injured in 1997 Al-Itihad/Ethiopia war in Gedo, Somalia.
Fahad and his organization Al-Ictisam still embrace their extremist ideology but decided to work under the shadows of their proxy government. Al-Ictisam’s disagreement of Al-Shabaab is not on ideology but on engagement, they are both fundamentalists but one is embedded with the government and sabotages every progress made towards security and sovereignty of Somalia while the other is openly terrorizing its own people.
Ethiopia’s support to fight against terrorism in Somalia is crucial but its ambitions to dominate Somalia and force the weak Somali government, which is totally in the mercy of Ethiopia’s army, to sign an agreement that allows sharing of its ports, territorial waters, and other vital resources with Ethiopia is unlawful and pure exploitation to say the least. This agreement combined with Ethiopia’s ambitions to build a navy without having access to a sea should send a signal to the international community that this could disillusion people and will reverse the progress made against terrorism in the Horn.
Most Somalis are now asking where will Ethiopia’s navy be based on and why do they need to have a navy without a sea? This is the first time in recorded history that a landlocked nation had a navy of its own, therefore, for all practical purposes, a navy would require territorial waters which I suspect, in this case, is none other than Somalia’s.
The heated dispute between the Somali Federal Government and its Regional States coupled with the false pretense of fighting against piracy and enforcing UN arms embargo is an excuse that Ethiopia can exploit and convince the international community to get access to Somali shores. Similarly, Somaliland’s desperate measures to get international recognition is another vulnerable situation that has been on Ethiopia’s expansionist radar for quite some time. Unfortunately, preventing Ethiopia’s dangerous dream from coming to fruition will require both the help of international community, and Somali Federal and State Governments to rise above the fray and work out a plan to eliminate terrorism and bring stability to their country.
For many years, Somalia depended on the international community to help them stand on their feet to join the league of nations again. The progress was slow and steady but it seems that, now, the dream of strong, sovereign Somali nation has at least subsided if not reversed.
The priorities of the current Somali administration are self-serving, and includes bringing regional states, and three branches of government under its control and to achieve that Ethiopia’s blessing is needed. The new agreement is signed by the Somali president and Ethiopia’s prime minister on the premise that Ethiopia will give the Federal government an absolute power to rule.
We welcome all economic cooperation between Ethiopia and Somalia but we have reservations about the timing of such comprehensive agreement with far reaching impact on Somalia’s vital economic resources, this agreement can only be signed when Somalia is in full control of its security and Ethiopia is out of its borders. We also believe this agreement can disillusion Somali people and will resuscitate terrorist groups, Al-Shabaab and ISIS in Somalia, from the brink of death.
Mr. Ahmed is a member of The Horn Group, a think tank of East Africa’s Policy and Security.
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