In resolute responses, Ethiopia and Somaliland have unequivocally rejected the recent Arab League Statement condemning their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Somaliland, in a press release today, expressed deep regret over the League of Arab States’ decision during its emergency meeting of foreign ministers on January 17, 2024.
The League’s statement affirmed support for Somalia’s security and sovereignty, declaring the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland null and void. In a scathing rebuke, Somaliland criticized the League’s stance as hostile, unfair, and a blatant interference in internal affairs. Asserting its independence, Somaliland emphasized its right to establish agreements with friendly nations, warning of consequences if incitement against the MoU persists, accusing Mogadishu of irresponsibility that could escalate conflicts in the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a forceful tweet, categorically rejected the Arab League’s statement, deeming it an attempt to interfere with Ethiopia’s internal affairs and sovereignty. Ethiopia, while maintaining bilateral relations with many Arab states, expressed dissatisfaction with the League’s stance, suggesting it serves the interests of only a few members.
Against the backdrop of the MoU, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mike Hammer, is set to attend the 42nd Extraordinary Summit of IGAD, focusing on Ethiopia-Somalia relations and Sudan. Notably, Ethiopia declined an IGAD summit invitation on technical grounds. Mr. Hammer’s visit’s purpose, including potential U.S. pressure on the MoU, remains unclear.
Meanwhile, the Somali Federal Government has accused Ethiopia of violating its sovereignty through the MoU with Somaliland, and threatening war despite Ethiopian forces’ presence in Somalia under the ATMIS mandate. However, Somaliland, despite lacking international recognition, has functioned as an independent country and entered into similar agreements with foreign entities in the past. Its main port of Berbera and free trade zone is managed DP World.
Interestingly, Somalia perceives the collaboration between Somaliland and Ethiopia as a greater threat to its stability than the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization, which recently claimed responsibility for a bombing in the Somali capital.