Somalia concocted the dual fearmongering narratives falsely claiming that Ethiopia will soon annex Somaliland and that this will then supposedly lead to a resurgence of Al-Shabaab throughout the region. The first half of this lie is meant to assemble a regional anti-Ethiopian coalition while the second is intended to imbue the larger international community with a sense of urgency for tangibly backing Mogadishu’s hoped-for reconquest of Somaliland on a false anti-terrorist pretext.
Somaliland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Amb Rhoda Jama Elmi comprehensively debunked the false narrative alleging that her country’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia will help fuel Al-Shabaab’s (AS) resurgence in the region. Ambassador Rhoda J. Elmi’s tweet can be read in full here, but the present piece will summarize her insight for the reader’s convenience prior to analyzing it so that they can fully appreciate the points that she made.
She began by reminding everyone that Somalia’s chaotic socio-economic and political conditions gave birth to AS, not hatred of Ethiopia like some have inaccurately claimed. The failure to resolve structural weaknesses in the years since and the federal government’s misplaced priorities fertilized the soil for this group’s continued growth. Ambassador Elmi then drew attention to academic research proving the connection between corruption, poverty, and militancy in support of her aforesaid assessment.
The next part of her tweet highlights the geo-economic drivers behind the recently signed MoU, which will help alleviate poverty and grow the economy on both sides of the border, thus drawing a sharp contrast with the regrettable state of affairs in neighboring Somalia where AS continues to operate. She also reminded everyone that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces have played a key role in fighting this terrorist scourge and then ended by hoping that her tweet will help clarify matters for everyone.
The context within which she shared her insight concerns the efforts by some Somali and other actors to misportray the MoU as a secret plot by Ethiopia to annex Somaliland. Somalia still claims that country as its own despite Somaliland’s redeclaration of independence in 1991 and its functional sovereignty since then. Mogadishu can’t reconquer Somaliland after failing to do so over the past one-third of a century, not to mention failing to exert sovereignty within Somalia itself, ergo the need for foreign help.
Therein lies the reason why Somalia concocted the dual fearmongering narratives falsely claiming that Ethiopia will soon annex Somaliland and that this will then supposedly lead to a resurgence of AS throughout the region. The first half of this lie is meant to assemble a regional anti-Ethiopian coalition while the second is intended to imbue the larger international community with a sense of urgency for tangibly backing Mogadishu’s hoped-for reconquest of Somaliland on a false anti-terrorist pretext.
The reality is that “The Somali Authorities & Al-Shabaab Are On The Same Side Against Ethiopia’s Somaliland Port Deal” and “The Somali Leader Is Looking For Allies As He Plots Hybrid War Against Ethiopia & Somaliland”. This explains why Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (HSM) chose Eritrea as the first country that he traveled to since the MoU was signed due to its troubled ties with Ethiopia stemming from November 2022’s Cessation Of Hostilities Agreement between it and the TPLF.
Eritrea had previously been sanctioned by the UNSC for arming and even training AS, but these restrictions were lifted in late 2018 following its rapprochement with Ethiopia at the time that only ended after the abovementioned peace deal was agreed to between Asmara’s enemies and Addis. HSM then visited Egypt, where its leader saber-rattled against Ethiopia out of desperation to distract from his betrayal of the Palestinians and surprisingly insulted Somalia by calling it a failed state to HSM’s face.
Egypt has sought to contain and ultimately Balkanize Ethiopia for decades, with Eritrea joining it after the start of the war with Ethiopia in 1998 and until their half-decade-long rapprochement beginning in 2018. It’s now widely suspected that Eritrea is once again colluding with Ethiopia’s historical rival due to its disapproval of November 2022’s Cessation Of Hostilities Agreement. The public justification for this anti-Ethiopian coalition that HSM is seeking to assemble is the false claims that his country is spewing.
By debunking the lie that this month’s MoU is a secret plot by Ethiopia to annex Somaliland and that AS will then enjoy a regional resurgence in the aftermath, Ambassador Elmi is informing the international community that this emerging coalition actually embodies that which it claims to oppose. Somalia wants Eritrean and especially Egyptian support for annexing Somaliland, and it also hopes that those two will help it arm, fund, and train AS as their Hybrid War proxies for destabilizing that country and Ethiopia.
The sooner that the international community realizes the truth about the processes that are taking shape in the Horn, the better that it’ll be since they could then diplomatically intervene to avert the larger war that HSM risks provoking. To that end, pressure can be put on Egypt to reconsider the wisdom of following through with its leader’s saber-rattling in parallel with threatening to withhold the foreign funds upon which Somalia depends if it dares to declare war against Ethiopia and/or Somaliland.
It’s not Ethiopia or Somaliland that are “rogue states”, but Somalia and any country that helps it wage war against either or both of those two, which is what would really create space for AS to expand even without any support from Somalia, Eritrea, and/or Egypt. “Somalia Should Negotiate A ‘Dignified Divorce’ With Somaliland As Soon As Possible” for the sake of regional peace and development, but HSM is hellbent on trying to reconquer that country and thus bears full responsibility for the consequences.