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EGYPT HAS BEEN HISTORICALLY A FACTOR IN SOMALIA’S FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Ethiopia has been left out in Somali President’s Blitzkrieg diplomatic offensive in Somalia’s neighbors. It is not yet known whether Ethiopia was reluctant to receive him, given the security instability in that country. However, there is no disagreement on the cooling off of relations with Hassan Sh. Mohamud”s presidency, knowing his predecessor, Farmajo, enjoyed close ties with previous Ethiopian leadership. Mohamud had had warm relations with TPLF Regime and even attended TPLF’s festivities in Makele, the provincial capital of Tigray, during the reign of TPLF. TPLF leadership were among the first to congratulate Mohamud on his presidential victory for a 2nd term this time. Mohamud lost no time to appoint Hamse Abdi Barre considered an Ethiopian because Ethiopia assumes he hails from Ogaden Region under Ethiopian administration, a historically disputed territory mainly inhabited by ethnic Somalis. Already, there is an escalation of violence and armed confrontation between Alshabab fighters and Ethiopian forces at long stretch of border between the two countries, with likely possibility of Ethiopian incursion into Somalia in hot pursuit.

Nile waters is synonymous to the existence of Egypt itself as they believe that Egypt cannot be without Nile River flowing to the desert and oasis of that country. Because of this natural and geographical fact, strained relations between Somalia and Ethiopia are in the vital interest of Egypt, making Somalia an strategic asset for Egypt in the same way Israel is for the United States in the Middle East. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud may be playing with fire in paying an early visit to Egypt, while he still doesn’t have his foreign policy team in place. It is too early to do that before weighing Somalia’s foreign policy options. Mohamud’s current visit to Egypt doesn’t even look like a calculated risk. Here, we see a lone president without a Cabinet sailing in troubled waters. Somali observers worry that the President may risk diplomatic blunders even before his government took office.

[This article was updated since posting.]

Postscript: Press report following Mohamud’s visit to Egypt: https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/2022/07/25/egypt-and-somalia-condemn-ethiopia-over-nile-dam-dispute/

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