The burning news of the signing of an agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland continues to provoke strong reactions and fuel tensions in the Horn of Africa region. This self-proclaimed independent territory of Somalia announced that the agreement provided for the recognition of Somaliland as a full state by Ethiopia, in exchange for access to the sea.
Since this announcement, positions have multiplied and countries are taking positions according to their diplomatic interests. Somalia, which considers Somaliland an integral part of its territory, has received significant diplomatic support from the Arab League, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Kenyan MPs of Somali origin also expressed solidarity with Mogadishu, condemning Ethiopia’s “irresponsible political adventurism”. Some even go so far as to call for retaliatory measures, such as stopping the importation of Ethiopian khat or suspending connections with Ethiopian Airlines.
For its part, Somaliland has also sought to obtain support from various countries, including a delegation that visited Taiwan, a major ally of the territory. However, in order to preserve its image, the Somaliland government has called on its population to remain measured and to base their arguments on concrete facts.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, gathered foreign diplomats to discuss the agreement, while timely announcing the launch of a diplomacy week starting January 11 to highlight its role in the region and on the African continent . At the same time, the country also announced the launch of the last phase of construction of the Renaissance Dam, a gigantic infrastructure which has already created serious tensions with Egypt.
This complex and tense situation once again highlights the political issues and regional rivalries in East Africa. National and international actors are striving to defend their interests and take a position in this delicate context. It remains to be seen how this affair will develop and what the long-term consequences will be for the stability of the region.