Investigative Reports

Financial Turmoil and a New Questionable Venture Cast Shadows over Boodhari Mills’ Future

In our previous coverage, we explored Boodheri Mills, a...

Somaliland Office in Taiwan Rejects Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The Republic of Somaliland Representative Office in Taiwan has...

Ministry of Information Spends 600,000 US Dollars to Fix a Decade Old Radio Station

According to a contract signed by the Minister of Information, Culture...

Djibouti Shutters Somaliland’s Diplomatic Mission, And signals Proxy War to Undermine MoU with Ethiopia

Voiced by Amazon Polly

According to multiple sources, the Djibouti government has closed Somaliland’s diplomatic mission in its country. Reports indicate that the mission was billed an exceptionally high amount for water and electricity, totaling tens of thousands of dollars. Both services have been immediately disconnected, leaving the mission without utilities in Djibouti’s sweltering heat.

The move to render the Somaliland Diplomatic mission in Djibouti unusable during the scorching summer months due to the cutoff of electricity and water utilities is viewed as a strategic maneuver. It deflects attention from the diplomatic implications surrounding Djibouti’s recognition of Somaliland’s independence, despite the latter lacking international recognition. An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking anonymously, highlighted this tactic..

This move comes amidst a significant shift in regional dynamics, particularly concerning Djibouti’s influence over Somaliland. President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti appears to be losing what many considered undue influence over Somaliland’s affairs. A key example of this influence was Djibouti’s practice of issuing conditional passports to Somaliland government officials, including members of Parliament, journalists, clerics, and anyone with influence. This arrangement gave Djibouti significant leverage over Somaliland, potentially allowing control over the movement of key Somaliland figures and influencing Somaliland’s policies and decisions.

The recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Somaliland and Ethiopia on January 1st marks a departure from this status quo which according to Djiboutian government officials was unexpected. This agreement, which promises Ethiopia access to the sea through Somaliland’s shores in exchange for formal recognition, has significantly altered the regional balance of power. Somaliland government officials have confirmed that Djibouti’s embassy in Hargeisa has been virtually vacant shortly after signing of the MoU with Ethiopia in January this year. While Djibouti has been less vocal than Somalia in its opposition to the agreement, its actions, including the closure of Somaliland’s mission, suggest a concerted effort to undermine the MoU.

Economic rivalry has further inflamed the diplomatic crisis. The World Bank’s “Container Port Performance Index 2023” ranked Djibouti’s port a dismal 382nd out of 385 globally, while Somaliland’s Berbera port was ranked a commendable 82nd. This stark contrast highlights the growing importance of Berbera and likely exacerbates Djibouti’s anxieties about its future if Somaliland and Ethiopia forge ahead with their cooperation.

Compounding these tensions is Djibouti’s critical reliance on Ethiopia for basic goods, including vegetables, due to its own lack of natural resources such as water. Djibouti imports approximately 90% of its food, a significant portion from Ethiopia, making it heavily dependent on its neighbor for survival. This reliance further underscores the strategic significance of the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU and Djibouti’s reactionary stance. It is unclear if Ethiopia will take issue with Djibouti’s current hostile posture, given the former’s reliance on the latter for the most basic commodities.

The sharp decline in Djibouti’s port ranking compared to Somaliland’s Berbera port signals a troubling forecast for Djibouti. Currently, Djibouti generates over a billion dollars annually from Ethiopia for port usage. However, this lucrative revenue stream is at risk. Should Ethiopia shift even a fraction of its transportation needs to Somaliland’s increasingly competitive and fledgling Berbera port, Djibouti’s economic landscape would be profoundly impacted.

On the kinetic front, sources indicate that Djibouti has begun arming border communities and creating conditions ripe for armed conflict to stifle a potential Ethiopian base on Somaliland’s coastline. Additionally, Djibouti is attempting to replicate the Las Anod scenario by supporting the Awdal State Movement, a group advocating for reuniting Somaliland’s western state of Awdal with Somalia.

“I have witnessed rebels issuing threats from within Djibouti, proclaiming their intention to ‘liberate Awdal.’ This was an unexpected development from our neighboring country,” stated President Muse Bihi Abdi of the Republic of Somaliland. He made these remarks during the inauguration of Somaliland’s national museum in the capital, highlighting the growing regional tensions. This is the first time and the only time Somaliland government has addressed Djibouti directly and its effort to prevent the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, meets with troops assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Nov. 3, 2019, on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Townsend visited to engage with key partners on the long-term stability in East Africa, oversee the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express and recognize U.S. service members in the region. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Codie Trimble)

Repercussions of armed conflict on Djibouti’s eastern flank would be far-reaching, potentially jeopardizing the stability of numerous foreign military bases, including the strategic AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) presence. Djibouti hosts several foreign military bases, making it a critical hub for international military operations in the region. Faced with the looming threat posed by the Somaliland-Ethiopia MoU and their burgeoning cooperation, Djibouti appears to be weighing all available options. This includes both diplomatic maneuvers and kinetic actions to safeguard its economic and strategic interests. Djibouti’s aggressive stance reflects its determination to prevent any future impact on its critical port revenues and geopolitical influence.

These developments point to a significant realignment in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti’s long-standing role as a mediator and influencer in Somaliland-Somalia relations appears to be diminishing. The Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU represents a bold move towards greater autonomy for Somaliland and a potential shift in regional economic and political alliances. As the situation continues to evolve, the global community is closely monitoring these changes. The outcome of this diplomatic crisis could significantly reshape the geopolitical landscape of the Horn of Africa, potentially leading to new patterns of regional cooperation and competition. The closure of Somaliland’s mission in Djibouti and its loss of influence over Somaliland underscore pivotal shifts in this evolving regional dynamic.

Attempts to contact Somaliland’s representative to Djibouti, Mr. Abdifatah Saed Ahmed, who is currently in the United Kingdom, were unsuccessful.

Latest

Somaliland Central Bank Warns the Public Against Massive Cryptocurrency Scam

KEY POINTS: The Central Bank of Somaliland has issued a...

U.S. Ambassador to Somalia visits the Republic of Somaliland

President Muse Bihi Abdi of the Republic of Somaliland...

Ethiopia Initiates Comprehensive Training Program for Somaliland Commandos

The Federal Government of Ethiopia, has commenced an extensive...

Somaliland’s 2024 Elections: High-Tech Ambitions Meet Political Reality as Biometric System Sparks Debate

HARGEISA, Somaliland — The Republic of Somaliland is gearing...

Stay Connected

Don't miss

Somaliland Central Bank Warns the Public Against Massive Cryptocurrency Scam

KEY POINTS: The Central Bank of Somaliland has issued a...

U.S. Ambassador to Somalia visits the Republic of Somaliland

President Muse Bihi Abdi of the Republic of Somaliland...

Ethiopia Initiates Comprehensive Training Program for Somaliland Commandos

The Federal Government of Ethiopia, has commenced an extensive...

Somaliland’s 2024 Elections: High-Tech Ambitions Meet Political Reality as Biometric System Sparks Debate

HARGEISA, Somaliland — The Republic of Somaliland is gearing...

Somaliland at the Crossroads: Can NEC Save the Nation from Collapse?

Somaliland's journey has been one of resilience and determination....

Somaliland Central Bank Warns the Public Against Massive Cryptocurrency Scam

KEY POINTS: The Central Bank of Somaliland has issued a warning about nine fraudulent cryptocurrency apps: 2139, KUEX, CBEX, TRECART, KFC, ADIDAS, CROPTY, OKX, and...

U.S. Ambassador to Somalia visits the Republic of Somaliland

President Muse Bihi Abdi of the Republic of Somaliland welcomed a delegation led by the United States Ambassador to Somalia, Mr. Richard H. Riley,...

Ethiopia Initiates Comprehensive Training Program for Somaliland Commandos

The Federal Government of Ethiopia, has commenced an extensive training program for approximately 8000 specialized personnel from the Republic of Somaliland, signaling a significant...