G7 statement strikes softer tone on Somaliland-Ethiopia MoU

Secretary of State Antony Blinken led the US delegation in Naples for the G7 summit (Image: Getty)
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The recent developments at the G7 have stirred controversy and potentially undermined efforts to combat Houthi terrorism threatening crucial shipping lanes in the Red Sea. Sources reveal that the US delegation, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, unsuccessfully pushed for a communique pressingly condemning a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Somaliland and Ethiopia.

Despite Somaliland’s successful establishment as an independent democracy since 1991, the G7’s strong stance supporting Somalia’s claims over Somaliland in the MoU has dealt a significant blow to the former British protectorate. This setback follows earlier indications from British officials hinting at the UK’s potential recognition of Somaliland, given its strategic significance at the entrance to the Red Sea, with the major port of Berbera.

The G7 communique, issued during a meeting of foreign ministers in Naples struck a softer tone, but raised concerns among officials, tying the UK to the contentious issue. The statement urges dialogue between Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland to prevent further escalation, but critics argue it interferes with sovereign decisions.

This diplomatic tension highlights broader geopolitical complexities, including military efforts against Houthi insurgents in the Red Sea. Some attribute the US’s stance to past support for Somalia’s claims during Barack Obama’s presidency, while others suggest influence from US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s advocacy against Somaliland recognition.

Meanwhile, British MPs’ recent visit to Somaliland garnered support for the unrecognized state, praised as a beacon of democracy in the region. Conservative MP Alexander Stafford condemned the G7’s intervention, emphasizing the need for respect for sovereign decisions.

Former UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, a key advocate for Somaliland recognition, criticized the G7’s stance, calling for a departure from failed policies and a recognition of Somaliland’s democratic achievements.

Amidst these diplomatic tensions, the contrast between Somalia’s instability and Somaliland’s democratic progress is starkly evident. While Somaliland prepares for upcoming elections, Somalia continues to grapple with governance challenges, emphasizing the divergent paths of the two entities.

Despite the mixed reactions in Somaliland, the government of Somalia has welcomed the G7 communique, further exacerbating tensions between the two entities.

The roots of this international dispute trace back to Somaliland’s quest for independence in 1991, following years of persecution and ethnic tensions within the union with Somalia. With its strategic location and vital port facilities, Somaliland’s recognition holds significance in addressing regional security challenges, including Houthi threats to shipping lanes.

However, Ethiopia’s possible recognition of Somaliland, driven by its need for port access, has sparked diplomatic tensions with Somalia. While Western countries await African leadership on Somaliland recognition, Ethiopia’s decision was expected to catalyze a shift in attitudes.

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