Somalia-Ethiopia Tensions: Why AU Must Urgently Intervene

Can Africa cope with another avoidable conflict? The African Union (AU) needs to urgently intervene in the tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia before things get out of hand.

Development Diaries reports that the tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia have taken a new turn as Somalia recently turned back an Ethiopian Airlines Hargeisa-bound flight.

We understand the flight was denied access to Somalia’s airspace amid worsening diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring countries, which are at loggerheads over a Red Sea deal.

Tensions have escalated between the two countries after the announcement of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, a territory that declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but received no recognition from any member of the international community.

This deal will grant Ethiopia 12 miles of sea access along the Somaliland coast for the next five decades, where it plans to construct a naval base.

While Ethiopia has indicated its strong desire for ways to diversify its access to the sea, Somalia has deemed Ethiopia’s latest MoU with Somaliland a threat to its territorial integrity.

The main centre of contention that intensified the tension seems to be the report that, in exchange for access to the port of Berbera, Ethiopia would look to recognise Somaliland as an independent country at some point in the future.

Apart from bringing the relationship between Ethiopia and Somalia to a near-breaking point, the situation is also fueling regional tensions.

Recall that Africa already has several hostile situations across the continent, with the latest being the Sudan crisis that has killed millions and uprooted families across the country.

Although the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement on 03 January, 2024, calling for calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension, the latest development indicates urgent actions need to be taken.

Development Diaries calls on the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) to urgently step in to find solutions between both nations to avoid plunging the Horn of Africa into security and humanitarian crises.

Photo source: Brookings


About the Author