Somalia has firmly stated that any mediation efforts with Ethiopia would be impossible unless Ethiopia annulled a contentious maritime agreement with the breakaway region of Somaliland.
The dispute escalated tensions in the Horn of Africa after Ethiopia inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Somaliland on January 1, granting it coveted access to the sea.
In response, Somalia’s Foreign Ministry declared, “There is no space for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its illegal MoU and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.”
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council addressed the crisis on Wednesday, urging both nations “to exercise restraint, de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue towards finding a peaceful resolution of the matter.”
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) held an extraordinary summit in Uganda on the Ethiopia-Somalia feud, alongside discussions on the conflict in Sudan.
International entities, including the United States, European Union, China, and the Arab League, echoed calls for respecting Somalia’s sovereignty. Mogadishu denounced the pact as an “act of aggression” by Ethiopia, while Ethiopia maintained it did not violate any laws.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud warned of a potential “revival” of Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group, and Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit condemned the MoU as a “blatant attack against Arab, African and international principles” and a violation of international law.
Under the agreement, Somaliland leased 20 kilometers of its coast to Ethiopia for 50 years, aiming to establish a naval base and commercial port. Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, remains unrecognized by Mogadishu and the international community.
Although the central government holds limited influence over the region, Somalia’s fragile authority has sparked concerns over potential ramifications.
Ethiopia, a landlocked nation since Eritrea’s 1993 secession, sought the maritime deal to regain access to the coast. The pact faced criticism from Somalis and international entities, with concerns about its impact on regional stability.
Ethiopia and Somalia, with a history of tumultuous relations and territorial disputes, fought two wars in the late 20th century.