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El-Sissi says Egypt will not tolerate threats to Somalia

January 21, 2024

The Egyptian leader's words came after Ethiopia said it might recognize breakaway Somaliland to gain access to the sea. Somaliland's independence claim, dating back to 1991, has never been recognized by other nations.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (R) welcomes the Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (L) during an official ceremony in Cairo, Egypt on January 21, 2024.
Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (left in picture) visited el-Sissi in Cairo on SundayImage: Somalian Presidency/Anadolu/picture alliance

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi declared in "a message to Ethiopians" on Sunday that "Egypt will not allow anyone to threaten Somalia or affect its security."

"Do not try Egypt, or try to threaten its brothers, especially if they ask it to intervene," el-Sissi said during a visit from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi (R) and the Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (L) meet in Cairo, Egypt on January 21, 2024.
Cairo's ties with Addis Ababa are also strained because of a major Ethiopian dam project upstream from Egypt on the Blue Nile riverImage: Somalian Presidency/Anadolu/picture alliance

Controversial deal between Somaliland and Ethiopia sparking anger

The comments come after Ethiopia announced that it may recognize independence claims put forth by the former British protectorate Somaliland in 1991. This would be in exchange for an agreement to a port lease giving Ethiopia access to the sea and the ability to establish and operate a commercial and naval base along a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Aden for the next 50 years. 

Somalia called the January 1 memorandum of understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland — which maintains its own government, security forces and currency despite lacking international recognition — an "act of aggression."  

Ethiopia's deal with Somaliland: Is it a country?

At news of the signing, Somali President Sheikh Mohamud said, "We will not stand idly by and watch our sovereignty being compromised."

Mogadishu has demanded Ethiopia withdraw from the "illegal" agreement and "reaffirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia."

El-Sissi, who said Egypt would not allow Ethiopia "to infringe upon Somalia's territory," slammed Adidas Ababa for its dealings with the breakaway region.

Ethiopia signs sea access deal with Somaliland

Not the first time Ethiopia has irked Cairo

Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have been troubled for over a decade by the construction and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, an infrastructure mega-project that Ethiopia has built on the Blue Nile, upstream from Egypt.

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam faces far greater threat

Talks between the two, along with neighboring Sudan, have so far failed to produce consensus, as Cairo continues to voice concerns over water security.

Last week, Egypt's foreign minister labelled Ethiopia, "a source of instability in the region."

js/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)