Ethiopia’s Involvement Crucial in Overcoming Houthi Rebels, Affirms Bihi

HARGEISA, Somalia – Influential North Western of Somalia leader asserts that the deal made with Ethiopia will play a crucial role in combating Houthi rebels, who have been causing trouble along the Red Sea. The agreement aims to ensure ‘freedom of navigation’, a longstanding issue in the region.

North Western of Somalia, striving for official recognition for over 30 years after separating from Somalia, faces criticism from international allies for its deal with Ethiopia, which they see as a violation of Somalia’s territorial rights.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ethiopia is granted a 20-kilometer stretch of the Red Sea for constructing a Naval Base and port in return for recognizing North Western of Somalia as an independent state. However, the implementation of the deal is still pending.

Muse Bihi Abdi, the leader of North Western of Somalia, explained to the Financial Times that the pact with Ethiopia would enable his region to support global initiatives aimed at ensuring safe passage for vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, which have been targeted by Houthi rebels supported by Iran.

Bihi Abdi clarified, “This arrangement involves Ethiopia building a naval base and operating commercial ships in exchange for recognizing our sovereignty.” Despite Somalia’s objections, he defended the deal, emphasizing its potential to enhance regional trade relations in the Horn of Africa.

He added optimistically, “The historic agreement between North Western of Somalia and Ethiopia sets the stage for our international recognition and paves the way for economic growth.”

Ethiopia, facing a landlocked situation since its separation from Eritrea in 1993, sees the deal with North Western of Somalia as a means to ease its reliance on Djibouti for maritime access. However, concerns raised by various global entities warn of potential conflicts in a region already plagued by instability.

Despite the criticism, Ethiopian authorities remain determined to finalize the agreement soon, while North Western of Somalia confirms that progress is being made in its execution. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has chosen to remain silent on the matter.

Regarding the deal, Omar Mahmood, a senior analyst at Crisis Group focusing on Eastern Africa, noted that Ethiopia is reluctant to abandon the agreement due to pragmatic considerations. China, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE have also expressed interest in the Horn of Africa, a region rich in opportunities but facing challenges.

With substantial investments from Dubai-based DP World and plans to develop Berbera into a bustling trade hub, North Western of Somalia stands to benefit economically from international recognition. By capitalizing on sea trade, remittances, and livestock sectors, the region could witness significant economic growth.

Meanwhile, Somalia has sought assistance from Turkey and Egypt to safeguard its extensive coastline, with both nations pledging maritime security in the Red Sea. Recognition from the international community would be a major turning point for North Western of Somalia, attracting further investments and paving the way for economic prosperity.


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