Awdal State Movement invited Ethiopia to own a Somali port
According to Somali digest report Awdal State Movement invited Ethiopia to own a Somali port
Yesterday evening, the Awdal State Movement (ASM) invited Ethiopia to establish access to a Red Sea port in Zeila. ASM’s press release expressed its support for the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who specifically mentioned the port of Zeila as an example for consideration. While the ASM appreciates the Prime Minister’s vision, the press release has raised concerns.
In the press release, ASM acknowledged the historical and current significance of the Gadabuursi community in the Horn of Africa and emphasised the need for political, economic, geographic, and historical cooperation among the Cushitic people, including Somalis, Afars, and Oromos. ASM further welcomed the idea of the historic port of Zeila (also Saylac) being made available to the Somalis in Ethiopia through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and, subsequently, an unspecified win-win agreement.
The press release has already drawn criticism for the lack of consultation with the people of Awdal, the region in question. Some argue that the ASM leader’s willingness to offer Zeila port and potentially become a governor representing Ethiopia indicates a desperate position rather than a genuine concern for the welfare of their people. Critics argue that this decision undermines the efforts to establish an administration governing the region as part of Somalia.
Additionally, concerns have arisen about the potential for future oppression under Ethiopian rule. Critics question how ASM, which claims to fight for the rights of its people, can support annexation without considering the potential consequences for the people of Awdal and consulting the central government in Mogadishu. Critics also highlight the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Somalis living in Ethiopia, particularly in the Sitti region neighbouring Djibouti, at the hands of the Afar community.
What did Abiy say?
The ASM’s statement was a reaction to Abiy Ahmed’s televised speech to lawmakers. PM Ahmed repeated that the “access to the port is an existential matter for Ethiopia” and that “Ethiopians should at least start discussing the [ownership of a] Red Sea [port].” In a 45-minute speech, PM Ahmed said if the Nile is an existential issue for the Egyptians and the Sudanese, while it originates in Ethiopia, and discussing it openly is not a taboo, discussing the Red Sea shouldn’t be a taboo either. “The thing that saddens me the most and pains me is that discussing the Red Sea agenda, even at the level of parliamentarians, is considered a taboo.”
The part of the speech that concerns the Awdal region is where PM Ahmed mentioned a few examples of ports which Ethiopia could use. “Let us invest in Assab, Zeila or Adulis,” the PM suggested. Assab is a port in the southeastern end of Eritrea, close to Djibouti. Adulis is also in Eritrea, closer to the capital Asmara. In exchange, Abiy Ahmed offered shares in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopian Airlines or Ethio Telecom, an Ethiopian telecommunication company serving as the major internet and telephone service provider. “Take 20, 30% [of any of these companies] and give us a port,” he emphasised.
Ethiopia is a landlocked country that, according to Abiy Ahmed, desperately needs to own a seaport. The Prime Minister said the country will possibly have around 150 million people by 2030. The absence of its own port hinders the nation’s development, as Ethiopia currently relies on using several different ports and spending too much on related fees.
Source: Somali Digest
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