Why has the Somalia-Ethiopia row deepened?

Somalia-Ethiopia row deepened
Farah Abdi Warsameh

Somalia-Ethiopia row deepened: Tensions have been building between the two East African neighbors and security allies since three months ago, when a pact was announced between Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland and Ethiopia.

Along with ordering the ambassador of Ethiopia to depart the nation within 72 hours, Somalia closed the consulates of Ethiopia in Somaliland and Puntland, two semiautonomous regions, on April 4. The Cabinet decided to give the diplomats and consulate staff one week to leave Somalia. In order to consult with Ethiopia, Somalia also summoned its own envoy there. The actions were justified, according to the Cabinet resolution, by Ethiopia’s meddling in Somalia’s domestic affairs.

Embassy authorities from Ethiopia in Mogadishu, the capital, verified receipt of the message. In January, Somaliland and Ethiopia inked a memorandum of understanding that recognized Somaliland as an independent nation in return for Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland as an access point to the sea. The memorandum was strongly opposed by Somalia since it violated Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Without consulting the Somali federal government in advance, Ethiopia’s minister of international affairs met with a Puntland region delegation on April 3 for commercial discussions. The local media outlet Garowe Online reports that Mohamud Aydid Dirir, the information minister of Puntland, supposedly said that the Ethiopian consulate in Garowe could not be closed since the Federal Government of Somalia did not have control over Puntland. The semi-autonomous state has proclaimed its desire to run itself freely until a statewide vote approves constitutional reforms authorized by the central government in Somalia. This announcement came days after the semi-autonomous state announced its secession from the country’s federal structure.

Ethiopia is one of Somalia’s allies in the fight against the Islamist insurgency that the country has been fighting for some time. Through AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, military forces from Addis Abeba have been sent to Somalia. There will be a complete withdrawal from Somalia in December 2024 after a further drawdown in June 2024. The troop numbers have been progressively decreasing since then.

Prior to the pact with Somaliland igniting diplomatic tensions between the East African neighbors in January of this year, Somalia and Ethiopia maintained cordial relations.

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