Somalia has rejected Ethiopia’s request to engage in negotiations regarding access to a Red Sea port. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently expressed concerns about the lack of a harbor for his country, highlighting the potential for future conflicts and emphasizing the need to address this issue for regional stability. However, Somalia has made it clear that while they are committed to promoting peace, security, trade, and integration, they have no intention of granting access to a strategic asset like a port. Ali Omar, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as defined in their constitution, are non-negotiable.
During a televised lecture, Prime Minister Abiy asserted Ethiopia’s “natural rights” to direct access to the Red Sea. He warned that if denied, it would lead to an absence of fairness and justice, ultimately resulting in a conflict. As a potential solution, he proposed sharing ownership of Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in exchange for stakes in ports in neighboring countries. Eritrea criticized the prime minister’s comments as excessive, causing confusion among observers.
Alexis Mohamed, senior adviser to Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, acknowledged that Prime Minister Abiy’s position has been longstanding but was now expressed more assertively. He stated that Djibouti would wait for Ethiopia to propose a peaceful means of accessing the Red Sea. Mohamed emphasized Djibouti’s willingness to maintain good relations with neighboring countries, including Ethiopia, and mentioned their openness to providing access to Ethiopia’s navy.