In a rapidly evolving situation in the Horn of Africa, the African Union (AU) has joined the United States in calling for calm following a controversial agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. Tensions have surged as Somalia vehemently opposes what it perceives as an encroachment on its sovereignty by Ethiopia through this contested deal.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU), inked on Monday, grants Ethiopia coveted access to the Red Sea through Somaliland, a move that Somalia describes as an “aggression” and a “blatant assault.” The AU Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has issued a statement urging both parties to exercise “calm and mutual respect” to de-escalate the simmering tension.
The AU’s Call for Calm and Negotiation
Chairman Faki emphasized the necessity for Ethiopia and Somalia to promptly engage in a negotiation process to address their differences. He stressed the importance of refraining from any actions that could inadvertently worsen the relations between these two neighboring Eastern African countries.
The AU’s appeal underscores the imperative to respect the unity, territorial integrity, and full sovereignty of all member states, aligning with the principles outlined in the South African press code.
International Response and US Position
The international community, represented prominently by the United States, has weighed in on the issue. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated the U.S. recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders. The U.S. joins other concerned partners in expressing serious apprehensions about the escalating tensions in the Horn of Africa.
Urging all stakeholders to prioritize diplomatic dialogue, the United States rejects international recognition for Somaliland and emphasizes the need for peaceful negotiations to resolve the crisis.
Details of the Controversial Deal
The comprehensive agreement signed in Addis Ababa goes beyond granting Ethiopia maritime access; it extends to the establishment of a military base. Somaliland, in return, leases 20 kilometers (12 miles) of coastline to Ethiopia for 50 years. While Somaliland’s leader, Muse Bihi Abdi, asserts that Ethiopia will “fully recognize” Somaliland in exchange, this claim has not been confirmed by Addis Ababa.
As tensions continue to escalate, the AU’s plea for calm and negotiations echoes the broader international call for peaceful dialogue, emphasizing the importance of respecting the sovereignty and unity of nations in the region. The unfolding events will undoubtedly test the diplomatic skills of all involved parties and their commitment to finding a resolution that preserves stability in the Horn of Africa.