Cairo will not allow any threat to Somalia, says President Sisi

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt has expressed solidarity with Somalia, declaring that Cairo strongly opposes Ethiopia's deal with Somaliland for sea access and the establishment of a naval base.

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A Somali woman carries their flag during a march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal along KM4 street in Mogadishu, Somalia January 11, 2024. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, during a joint press conference with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, declared that Egypt will not tolerate any threat to Somalia or compromise its security. El-Sisi cautioned against attempting to challenge or intimidate Egypt.

Somaliland, strategically located along the Gulf of Aden, declared independence in 1991 amid Somalia’s civil conflict and has maintained self-governance despite lacking international recognition. On January 1, Ethiopia proposed a memorandum offering to recognize Somaliland’s independence in exchange for port access, leasing a 20km stretch of coastland around the port of Berbera for military and commercial use over a 50-year period. Ethiopia currently relies on Djibouti, a neighbouring country, as its primary maritime export port.

President Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia denounced the agreement, citing it as a violation of international law and asserting, “We will not stand idly by and watch our sovereignty being compromised.” Seeking support for his government, Sheikh Mohamud visited Egypt, holding meetings with President el-Sisi, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Al-Azhar Mosque’s Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.

President el-Sisi conveyed a message to Ethiopia, stating that attempting to acquire control over a piece of land is universally unacceptable, emphasizing that collaboration on development represents a more favourable approach.

Ethiopia, in response to Egypt’s criticism of the deal, rejected the notion that it involved annexation or the assumption of sovereignty over any territory. Redwan Hussien, the national security adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia, clarified that the agreement was a commercial arrangement with the primary objective of securing sea access.

The strained relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have been ongoing for years, primarily due to a significant dam constructed by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile. Both nations, along with Sudan, have engaged in over a decade of negotiations to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The most recent round of talks, which took place last month, concluded without reaching an agreement, leading to mutual accusations between Cairo and Addis Ababa for the failure.

Negotiators have highlighted that crucial issues still need resolution, particularly concerning the amount of water Ethiopia would release downstream in the event of a multiyear drought, as well as the mechanism for resolving any future disputes between the countries.



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