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U.S. Special Envoy warns Ethiopia-Somaliland deal jeopardizes anti-al-Shabaab campaign

Friday January 19, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) - The United States has expressed concern over the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and the breakaway Somaliland region, stating that it threatens the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Speaking at the extraordinary session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Kampala on Thursday, U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer mentioned that the United States recognizes the Federal Republic of Somalia's sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, which includes Somaliland.

"We believe the status of Somaliland is an issue for Somalis, including Somalilanders, to decide. We are particularly concerned that the increase in tensions over the Memorandum of Understanding threatens to disrupt the fight that Somalis, along with Africans and regional and international partners - including the United States - are waging against al-Shabaab," he said.

Ambassador Hammer urged Somalia and Ethiopia to avoid precipitous actions that could create opportunities for al-Shabaab to expand its reach.

The IGAD summit focused on the ongoing situation between the Ethiopia-Somalia and Sudan. IGAD strongly affirms the inalienable principle of protecting and preserving the independence, solidarity, and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Ambassador Hammer is expected to visit Addis Ababa from January 17 to 24.

CIA Director William Burns met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Mahad Salad, the head of the Somali National Intelligence Agency, in Mogadishu on Wednesday. Burns discussed various issues, including critical points of the agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland, "security cooperation, the fight against terrorism, and developments in the region."

The ongoing crisis between Somalia and Ethiopia revolves around a controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on New Year's Day. The agreement involves Ethiopia leasing a 20-kilometre coastal stretch in Somaliland for a commercial port and military base. The Somali government strongly opposes the deal, labelling it as "aggression" and a "clear violation of sovereignty."


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