Washington D.C. (Diplomat.so) - The White House has expressed deep-seated national security concerns surrounding an illicit agreement that grants Ethiopia leasing rights to the Red Sea coast in (Somaliland) northwestern Somalia. Despite claiming secession, Somaliland Administration is not recognized either regionally or internationally.
The controversial deal, signed on January 1 in Addis Ababa, has sparked worry within the international community. Redwan Hussien, the National Security Advisor to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, asserted that the agreement also facilitates the establishment of a leased military base on the Red Sea.
John Kirby, Director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council, informed Voice of America (VOA) that Washington is actively collaborating with regional partners, including the African Union and the eight-member Intergovernmental Authority on Development trade bloc (IGAD), to oppose the nonbinding memorandum of understanding. The Somali government, based in Mogadishu, deems the agreement as illegitimate.
"We're certainly troubled," Kirby stated, emphasizing the United States' commitment to supporting Somalia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. He added, "As we've said many, many times, we support Somalia's sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and it's got to be respected."
Highlighting the potential ramifications, Kirby expressed concern that the situation could embolden Islamist al-Shabab militants, longstanding adversaries in Somalia's brutal civil war. The African Union's official policy opposes changes to borders drawn during the colonial era.
"What we're particularly concerned about is this [Memorandum of Understanding] inked recently between Ethiopia and Somaliland threatens to disrupt the fight that Somalis, Africans, and regional international partners, including us, are waging against Al-Shabab," Kirby warned. "Al-Shabab remains a viable terrorist threat in the region, without question. We don't believe that the region can afford any more conflict."