HARGEISA, Somalia – Ethiopia stepped up cooperation with secessionist Somaliland this week after a high-security meeting that comes several months after Addis Ababa and Hargeisa locked their horns over Egypt’s quest to establish a military base in the erupted northern region of Somalia.
In June, Somaliland and Egypt reportedly agreed to have the latter set up a military base along the shores of the Indian Ocean, a move that angered Ethiopia. At that time, Addis Ababa and Cairo were fighting for the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam along the Blue Nile.
To counter Egypt, Ethiopia, which has been a traditional friend of Somalia, chose to send a full envoy to Hargeisa as a strategy to ease tensions. Somaliland authorities have not yet confirmed whether the decision was implemented immediately.
And early in the week, a delegation from Ethiopia consisting of military officials arrived in Somaliland, where they discussed security cooperation between the two nations. This was the first high-level security meeting between the two parties after the June failure, which almost dissolved the cooperation between them.
Among those at the meeting were Somaliland’s Interior Minister Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, Defense Minister Abdiqani Mohamoud Ateye, Chief of Staff of Somaliland’s Armed Forces Major General Nuh Ismail Tani, Commander of the Custodial Corps, Major General Ahmed Awale Yussuf ‘Libah’.
Others were Immigration Commissioner Mohamed Osman Alin and Ethiopia Deputy Ambassador Barkhad Mohamoud Kariye Somaliland. The team is basically making security decisions in Somaliland, a region that is still fighting for international recognition.
The Ethiopian delegation consisted of General Husein Hashi Qasim, Head of the Special Liyu Police, Major General Zewdu Belay, Commander of the Eastern Division of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces. [ENDF], and Ethiopia’s Somali Prime Minister of Irrigation Abdirahman Iid Dahir.
During the meeting in Hargeisa, the two sides discussed and agreed on ways to further strengthen security cooperation between Ethiopia and Somaliland. Ethiopia, as a landlocked nation, depends mainly on the port of Djibouti and the or Berbera for imports and exports and thus the need for improved security.
Somaliland in northern Somalia and Ethiopia share a long border, as both sides cooperate on intelligence gathering, counter terrorism and cooperate with security in the border areas. Both nations have witnessed a reduced number of terrorist cases, something attributed to robust counter-terrorism strategies.
On April 22, military officials from Ethiopia and Somaliland met and discussed work implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the border town of Tog Wajaale according to the Addis Ababa standard, and due to military cooperation, the two sides have controlled the spread of Viruses.
Somaliland’s quest for statehood has seen many countries express interest in close military cooperation. In addition to Ethiopia and Egypt, which express the military base, it is said that the United States, which recently supported cooperation between Somaliland and Taiwan, is considering moving the military base to Berbera.