Opposition in Vain Doesn’t Help

3 Mons Ago
Opposition in Vain Doesn’t Help

By Daniel Kassahun

After the signing of the historic Memorandum of Understanding between the leaders of Ethiopia and Somaliland earlier this January, mixed reactions have been heard from many sides—some positive and some negative.

The agreement was made based on goodwill between the Ethiopian government and Somaliland for Ethiopia to have a 20-kilometer area to lease a commercial port and military base in the Gulf of Aden for half a century. The deal allows Ethiopia to have a naval base and maritime services in the Gulf of Aden, respecting Somaliland's interests.

However, the reaction from neighboring Somalia has been disappointing, considering Ethiopia's long-standing sacrifices of lives and resources fighting Al-Shabab terrorists and stabilizing Somalia. Indeed, Somalia's current government structure is due to wholehearted support from Ethiopia and other African nations.

Ethiopia in particular, as an ardent proponent of African freedom, peace, and development, should not be seen negatively as if it may destabilize the region. On the contrary, Ethiopia pursues relations with any country through deals, negotiations, and a win-win approach. It has consistently championed peace and development in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

It is wise for African nations to align with Ethiopia, given its long-standing record of sacrifice for the continent. It would be prudent to examine African history and set your compasses accordingly!

Importantly, there is nothing untoward regarding the signed agreement, as it was made with Somaliland's government consent and projects long-term mutual benefits. It was executed mutually, and opposition in vain does not help.

Somaliland's right to self-governance should also not be misconstrued. This was a choice made by Somaliland's people, with over 97% voting to endorse their 1997 constitution and affirm their 1991 self-declared independence. Somaliland has an operational political system, governmental institutions, a police force, currency, and is self-governing with a presidential structure.

Its quest for recognition began almost 35 years ago, when Ethiopia's current Prime Minister was a teenager. Both have grown in parallel to strike this landmark agreement based on consent and foresight.

When neighbors cooperate for mutual gain, as Ethiopia and Somaliland have done, it should be encouraged, not discouraged, if principles and logic stand. Their visionary agreement benefits over 125 million people.

Consider that foreign nations have sailed thousands of miles to secure base access on the shores of East Africa. Four Horn of Africa states host 10 foreign bases, with more being negotiated. Tiny Djibouti alone hosts six foreign bases. This potentially jeopardizes relations with neighbors should they be used for launching pads. Eritrea also hosts Russian and Emirati bases. Somalia hosts Turkish facilities. Somaliland itself hosts a UAE base. So why discourage Ethiopia?

As stated by the Government Communication Service, cooperation is the only way forward, not denialism. “It is not possible to create a better tomorrow by denying cooperation under the veil of insecurity or wickedness... This opportunity is open to all and remains open.”

Beyond defense and commerce, the deal provides for Ethiopia to assess potentially recognizing Somaliland. The security advisor stated that specifics would be public within a month.



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