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Somalia’s Delicate Diplomacy: Renewed Defense Pact with Ethiopia Unveils Geopolitical Struggle in the Horn of Africa

Somalia’s Delicate Diplomacy: Renewed Defense Pact with Ethiopia Unveils Geopolitical Struggle in the Horn of Africa

In a significant move for regional stability, Somalia’s Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and his Ethiopian counterpart Abraham Belay signed a renewed defense cooperation agreement in Addis Ababa on Thursday. The two sides said that the pact, initially signed in 2014 underscores their joint commitment to fostering peace and security in the region.

However, beneath the surface lies a complex geopolitical dance involving Somalia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. This development holds profound implications against the complex backdrop of strained regional relations and geopolitical maneuvering in the Horn of Africa. The catalyst for this diplomatic shift was Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to Egypt on July 2022, where discussions with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi resulted in the announcement of regional security cooperation.

This move irked Ethiopia, which perceived it as a breach of trust in their long-standing alliance.

Somalia has since found itself walking a diplomatic tightrope to navigate its relationships with two key regional allies, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Earlier this year, under pressure from Addis Ababa, Somalia was however compelled to quietly downgrade its ties with Cairo, thanks to a significant political influence exerted by Ethiopia which is believed to have played a pivotal role in the recalibration.

But, the evolving dynamics in the region raise questions about the sustainability of Somalia’s delicate balancing act. Will it succumb to pressure from Ethiopia, or can it find a diplomatic middle ground that satisfies both its regional allies?

The Nile Dam issue, a geopolitical hot potato, adds an extra layer of complexity to an already intricate web of alliances.

Somalia’s Dilemma in a nutshell

Somalia’s tactical and vigilant decision will decide remaining intact its historical ally of Egypt and Ethiopia, a geopolitically hegemon in the Horn of Africa region, and a troop-contributing country in Somalia’s peace-keeping forces of ATMIS. Earlier this year, president Hassan Sheik has hosted the leaders of the region including president William Ruto of Kenya, president Ismail Omar Gueleh of Djibouti, and PM Abiy of Ethiopia in a bid to expedite the “search and destroy” operation against the perennial problem maker of Al-Shabaab.

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