Somaliland and Ethiopia: Charting a Brighter Course in the Horn of Africa
Examining the Strategic Partnership between Somaliland and Ethiopia in the Face of Regional Challenges
As the Las Anod conflict unfolds, displacing nearly 100,000 people into Ethiopia, the critical importance of deepening diplomatic ties between Somaliland and Ethiopia for regional stability becomes increasingly evident. The two nations must enhance their political, economic, and security cooperation to confront a crisis that is now both a regional and international concern.
The ongoing Las Anod rebellion, led by Dhulbahante traditional elders and compounded by the looming threat of ISIS and Al-Shabaab fighters from Somalia exploiting the chaos, highlights the deep interconnection of Somaliland and Ethiopia's interests in this situation.
The humanitarian crisis, triggered by the insurgency involving Dhulbahante traditional elders, Puntland forces, and opportunistic terrorists, has exacerbated the already fragile situation at the Somaliland-Ethiopia border. The influx of refugees, mainly women and children, places a burden on scarce resources and challenges the resilience of local communities. Stronger collaboration between Somaliland and Ethiopia has never been more essential.
The Las Anod rebellion presents a considerable threat to not only Somaliland but also the broader Horn of Africa region, particularly Ethiopia. The infiltration of ISIS and Al-Shabab fighters into Las Anod under the pretense of supporting a clan rebellion poses a significant risk to the stability and security of both Somaliland and Ethiopia.
The appointment of Amb. Delil Kedir Bushra as Ethiopia's new diplomatic representative to Somaliland presents a unique opportunity to boost security cooperation and address the challenges posed by the Las Anod conflict. This development marks a positive step toward a stronger partnership between the two nations. Ensuring cordial relations between Somaliland and Ethiopia is crucial, particularly in light of recent revelations that fighters loyal to Ethiopia's Somali State regional President Mustafa Mohammed Omar (Cagjar) are involved in the Las Anod clan rebellion. This disturbing development has alarmed Somaliland's citizens, damaged Hargeisa-Jigjiga relations and cast doubts on Mustafa Cagjar's ability to maintain regional stability and collaborate on initiatives such as the Berbera Corridor/Berbera Expansion project.
Both Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide have vital roles to play in deepening their relationship with Somaliland and holding accountable those who seek to undermine it. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has demonstrated consistency in maintaining Somaliland-Ethiopia relations in his diplomatic efforts. Ahmed Shide has also shown exceptional statesmanship in collaborating with Somaliland on economic initiatives like the Berbera Corridor and Expansion project. The potential benefits of a closer relationship will not only foster success within their borders but also contribute positively to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.
Detractors will always argue against closer relations between Somaliland and Ethiopia, but they often represent the very source of the security threats both nations face today. By focusing on their shared interests and strengthening diplomatic relations, Somaliland and Ethiopia can effectively address the threats posed by the Las Anod conflict and resolve the humanitarian crisis burdening both nations. A unified partnership will prove an invaluable driving force for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.