Tuesday February 13, 2024
Mogadishu (HOL) – Ali Omar (Ali Balcad), the State Minister of Foreign Affairs and acting minister, arrived in Addis Ababa for discussions amid rising tensions with Ethiopia. Balcad’s agenda includes hosting a session with African ministers and participating in the 44th Summit of the African Union.
Ali Balcad’s visit comes as tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia are at their lowest in decades. Ethiopia’s decision to enter into an MoU with the breakaway region of Somaliland has been described by Somalia as “an illegal invasion.”
The MOU, signed on New Year’s Day, has not been fully disclosed but is understood to grant Ethiopia naval access to the Red Sea through Somaliland in exchange for recognition and shares in Ethiopian Airlines, sparking widespread protests in Somalia.
Ethiopia, for its part, seeks access to the sea to alleviate its landlocked status.
Balcad told reporters that dialogue with Ethiopia was off the table until Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed annuls the contentious agreement with Somaliland, a region that has sought independence from Somalia since 1991 but lacks international recognition. He added that Somalia will reciprocate any measures Ethiopia undertakes. “We are prepared to respond in kind to any further actions Ethiopia takes concerning the illegal MOU,” Minister Ali Balcad declared.
Balcad’s stance has been echoed by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who has reiterated that there will be no talks with Ethiopia until the MOU is retracted.
The Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs has criticized the MOU as a “dangerous breach of international law,” fearing it may undermine the country’s recent progress.
The international community, including the United States, the European Union, the Arab Union and various African Union members, has expressed concern over the escalating tensions, urging dialogue and respect for Somalia’s territorial integrity.