Egypt, Arab League, and EU Express Support to Somalia Following Ethiopia-Somaliland Port Deal

What’s Happening

Following the signing of a deal between Ethiopia and the Somalian breakaway region of Somaliland which grants Ethiopia access to the Somaliland port of Berbera, the government of Somalia has sought international support in condemning the deal, as well as attempting to make Ethiopia back down on it.

In return for access to 20km of coastline in Somaliland and thus access to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, Ethiopia will recognize Somaliland as independent and establish official diplomatic ties.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud made personal phone calls to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, as well as the Emir of Qatar, pertaining to the matter. Following their phone conversations, El-Sisi released a statement saying that “Egypt’s firm position is to stand by brotherly Somalia and support its security and stability”.

An additional statement on the matter by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, translated by Google Translate.

Similarly, the League of Arab States has expressed its support for Somalia against Ethiopia, accusing Ethiopia of attempting to “violate the sovereignty of the Somali state”, calling it a “violation of the rules and principles of international law” which “threatens the territorial integrity of the Somali state as a whole”.

Additionally, the EU released a statement, directed at Ethiopia to “remind the importance of respecting the unity, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia pursuant of its constitution, the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations”.

Somalia has vowed to fight the Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement, called a “Memorandum of Understanding”, by “any legal means possible”.

After the deal was announced, Somalia recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia.

Potential Instability

Today the Somali ministry of foreign affairs convened a meeting with a large portion of ambassadors to Somalia and charges d’affaires of foreign missions in the nation in order to brief them on the ongoing situation.

Notably within the briefing was the claim that ensuing instability is undermining Somalia’s ability to effectively counter the Al-Shabaab militant group, further claiming that the instability caused by the agreement will likely lead to “propaganda and recruitment opportunities for the terror group to destabilize the region, as they have already begun to exploit it”. The statement on the briefing also specifically notes that Al-Shabaab originally emerged after Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia in 2006-2007.

As of late, in joint operations oftentimes with the US, Somalia has been making notable gains against areas held by Al-Shabaab. Any setbacks in this progress by a bolstered Al-Shabaab would mark a significant blow for the Somali government.

It is unclear if mounting political pressure will make Ethiopia back down/withdraw from the deal.

Protests today were held on Mogadishu against the Ethiopian deal.


Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.


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