Hargeisa Oo Laga Xusay Maalinta Qoomiyaddaha Ethiopia

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The Ethiopian Consulate in Hargeisa has celebrated the nations  and nationalities day of Ethiopian in Somaliland. He cited that Somaliland  and Ethiopia are good neighbor; they work on peace, economic  and political  elements in Horn of Africa. He added that he was very impressed with the recent election in Somaliland. He also said that Ethiopia has high respect of nations  and nationalities after they overthrew the dictator regime of Derg.

Continue reading Hargeisa Oo Laga Xusay Maalinta Qoomiyaddaha Ethiopia

The Acting Assistant Secretary, Donald Yamamato Will visit Horn of Africa

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In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Acting Assistant Secretary, Donald Yamamoto will meet with senior leaders of the Ethiopian government and of the African Union from December Continue reading The Acting Assistant Secretary, Donald Yamamato Will visit Horn of Africa

Can Somaliland’s New President Steer It Toward International Recognition?

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The candidate of Somaliland’s ruling party, Musa Bihi Abdi, was finally declared the new president of Somaliland late last month, after Continue reading Can Somaliland’s New President Steer It Toward International Recognition?

The Newly Elected President, Mr. Musa Bixii, will form a Lean and Small Cabinet

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The Newly Elected President of Somaliland Musa Bixii informed to its party that he will nominate a lean and small cabinet; they will not be more than 15 Ministers. They used to be more than 70 Ministers under President Silanyo. The selection of new cabinet will be chosen through proven creational, experiences and skills not by clan. He added that he will fight corruption, mismanagement and nepotism. President Musa Bixi said that he will fulfill the promise in his campaign. Moreover, he is focusing on the eradication of poverty, creation of job,   and enhancing education so that the younger population of Somaliland, who are 70 percent, will gain some skills  and jobs.

Continue reading The Newly Elected President, Mr. Musa Bixii, will form a Lean and Small Cabinet

Paradigm shift taking place in TPLF and Tigrai- Tigraionline

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(tigraionline) —-We are all closely following the TPLF’s executive and central committee meeting taking place in the capital city of Tigrai state, Mekelle. The session has been going

Continue reading Paradigm shift taking place in TPLF and Tigrai- Tigraionline

The Recognition of Iris technology in the recent election will be followed by Somaliland recognition

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By: Financial Times

Last week, the Republic of Somaliland’s independent National Electoral Commission Continue reading The Recognition of Iris technology in the recent election will be followed by Somaliland recognition

World Bank unveils new strategic plan for Ethiopia- Xinhua

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ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — The World Bank Group on Tuesday unveiled its strategic plan for Ethiopia, which will guide the Bank’s operational plan and support to the east African country for the coming five years. Continue reading World Bank unveils new strategic plan for Ethiopia- Xinhua

COMMENTARY: WAS/IS THERE ETHNIC CONFLICT/ VIOLENCE IN ETHIOPIA?

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 Alem Mamo, for Addis Standard

Addis Abeba, November 27/2017 – Conceivably, if there is a single most important question that requires in depth interrogation in the present political atmosphere of Ethiopia it is this one: was/is there ethnic conflict in Ethiopia? Though it seems Continue reading COMMENTARY: WAS/IS THERE ETHNIC CONFLICT/ VIOLENCE IN ETHIOPIA?

The Wellknown BBC Broadcaster and SNM Veteran, Hassan Issa Jama, Narrated on the newly Elected President’s Character Musa Bixee

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Hassa Issa Jama summed up: The newly elected President Musa Bixi is a man of principle who fought to liberate Somaliland from the dictator regime of Siyyad Barre. He was the most distinguished vanguard when the two dictator dictators Mengestu of Ethiopia and Siyaad Barre of Somalia signed an accord to dismantle the liberation fronts. Second, at the time of reforming the Somali National Liberation, Musa Bixe had played a crucial role to disarm the rebels. This had shaped the rebirth of Somaliland that has been shining in the last twenty six years in Horn of Africa.
Continue reading The Wellknown BBC Broadcaster and SNM Veteran, Hassan Issa Jama, Narrated on the newly Elected President’s Character Musa Bixee

The Chairman of Opposition Party, Abdurahman Cirro has Endorsed the Result of November 13 Election

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The opposition Chairman, Abdurahman Cirro, has shown a gesture of democratic  and leadership to endorse the result of 13 November that has been held in Somaliland. He said, ” I am  not here to destroy my country; consequently , I approved the result announced by the commission of  Somaliland”  This set an honorable example to other African countries.

Continue reading The Chairman of Opposition Party, Abdurahman Cirro has Endorsed the Result of November 13 Election

Deg Deg Daawo Musse Biixi CAbdi OO Noqdey Madaxweynaha Shanaad Ee Somaliland iyo Codadka at Kala Heleen Murashaxiitu

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Continue reading Deg Deg Daawo Musse Biixi CAbdi OO Noqdey Madaxweynaha Shanaad Ee Somaliland iyo Codadka at Kala Heleen Murashaxiitu

Degdeg: Komishanka Doorashooyinka Qaranka oo ku Dhawaaqay in Madaxweynenimada Somaliland uu ku Guulaystay Mudane Muuse Biixi

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Hargeysa (Warbaahinta Xisbiga KULMIYE)- Komishanka Doorashooyinka Qaranka Somaliland oo hadda ku dhawaaqay natiijada doorashadii Madaxtooyada ka dhacday Continue reading Degdeg: Komishanka Doorashooyinka Qaranka oo ku Dhawaaqay in Madaxweynenimada Somaliland uu ku Guulaystay Mudane Muuse Biixi

Musa Bixee, the President of Somaliland in the next five years

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The Election Committee has announced that the  Kulimye Party has won the election:

Kulmiye: 305, 909    55.19 %

Wadani:  226, 092    40.73 %

Ucid: 23, 141                4.17 %

Continue reading Musa Bixee, the President of Somaliland in the next five years

What will be Next when the Honorable Musa Bixee is elected to be the President of Somaliland

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Continue reading What will be Next when the Honorable Musa Bixee is elected to be the President of Somaliland

Who is the Leader of Opposition Abdurahman Cirro

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Abdurahman Cirro has been the first secretary of Somalia in Russia when Somaliland people were fighting with the regime of Siyad Barre. Among the top leaders who fought against the dictator regime of Siyad Baree was Musa Mixee, the current candidate. Musa Bixe had routed the soldiers of oppressive regime of Somalia when Cirro was working under Siyad’s regime that leveled to the ground the city of Hargeisa. It is ironic to see that Abdurahman Cirro is still thinking to unite Somaliland to Somalia. Continue reading Who is the Leader of Opposition Abdurahman Cirro

Ethiopia busts terror suspects, says Eritrea involved in Oromia instability

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(africanews) –Ethiopia’s security forces on Wednesday announced the arrest and detention of two members of an outlawed group, Ginbot 7. The federal authorities said it Continue reading Ethiopia busts terror suspects, says Eritrea involved in Oromia instability

All Experts are Predicting that Musa Bixii will be the Future President of Somaliland

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This is a series of articles that will shed light on the current election of Somaliland.

Who is Musa Bixxi?

Muse Bihi Abdi is the candidate for the Kulmiye party,
securing the nomination in 2015 amid an internal
debate regarding Silanyo’s successor. Bihi served in
Somalia’s air force under Siad Barre, and was a Somali
National Movement (SNM) commanding officer during
the armed struggle in the 1980s. He also led the postwar
demobilisation, reintegration and rehabilitation of
ex-combatants while serving as interior minister in the
1990s.  He is the most respected  and favor candidate by Ethiopia, Kenya, America  and European countries. He is simply the most charismatic, man of principle  and democratic leader.

The stakes are high for Somaliland’s presidential elections scheduled for 13 November 2017. After more than two years of delays, voters will finally have the chance to be heard. Given that President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud ‘Silanyo’ is stepping down, the contest will result infresh leadership. This report sheds light on some of the pivotal political and security issues facing Somaliland at the time of these crucial elections, providing a background on the process and raising some key concerns. Continue reading All Experts are Predicting that Musa Bixii will be the Future President of Somaliland

Somalia Doesn’t Need Tears. Help Us Fight Terrorism.

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — On Oct. 14, a truck carrying about two tons of homemade explosives blew up near Zoobe Junction, one of the busiest streets in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The blast sent shock waves for miles. More than 400 people were killed — nearly 150 of them burned beyond recognition — and hundreds wounded. Families wandered for hours searching for their loved ones in the rubble.

Hundreds of citizens lined up at hospitals for hours to donate blood. Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers did all they could to rescue the wounded. Grieving and angry Somalis gathered on Zoobe Junction blamed Islamist Shabab militants for the atrocity. Leaders from Turkey, the United States, Britain, Canada, France and the United Nations condemned the attack.

But condemnation isn’t going to help Somalia battle the Shabab and its bomb makers. To defeat Shabab terrorism, Somalia requires expertise and equipment that it lacks, and it needs a new paradigm of cooperation between Somali security services and our international partners.

There is no doubt about the Shabab, which has links with Al Qaeda, being the perpetrator. Bombings with homemade explosives are a common tactic for these militants in their battle with the Somali government. The toll in the Oct. 14 bombing was so high, however, that the Shabab didn’t dare to claim responsibility and admit its murderous conduct even to its own members and sympathizers.

A few years ago, the Shabab controlled almost all of southern Somalia — about half of the country. Since then, Somali and African Union forces have expelled the Shabab from most major towns; American airstrikes and joint operations between Somali and United States Special Forces have killed dozens of militant leaders.

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading Somalia Doesn’t Need Tears. Help Us Fight Terrorism.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia ministers to hold another round of dam

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The water ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed Thursday to hold a new round of negotiations at the ministerial level to discuss their main points of disagreement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Continue reading Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia ministers to hold another round of dam

U.S. Embassy:The United States sees peaceful demonstrations as a legitimate

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Statement by the U.S. Embassy:The United States sees peaceful demonstrations as a legitimate means of expression and political participation. We note with appreciation a Continue reading U.S. Embassy:The United States sees peaceful demonstrations as a legitimate

Is ethnic federalism really the biggest problem in Ethiopia?

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The simple answer is not the federal system that is causing problem among nations  and nationalities in Ethiopia, but the implementation of the system that requires a transparency, a good governance ,  and rule of law. In other words, the Federal government in Ethiopia is lacking a genuine implementation of three main branches namely judiciary, legislative and executive.

Tension between ethnic federalism and a centralised Ethiopian identity threaten the unity of Ethiopia. Can it be resolved? Continue reading Is ethnic federalism really the biggest problem in Ethiopia?

H. Res 128 has been indefinitely postponed

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The diehard people in Diaspora  who had ruled in the  time of Haile Sillasie  and Derg are still daydreaming to go back to power seat .Sadly the Oromos  and Somali who benefited from the current administration besides the implementation of genuine federal system are sided with the settlers. The two organizations namely ONLF (  a misguided organization that is formed by the late dictator Siyad Bare   and thinking to be the sole exclusive representative of Somali Region  and the OLF  that does  not  have a clear program to govern Ethiopia were the only groups worked with diehard settlers.

When Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) addressed a gathering of mostly Ethiopian-origin constituents in late September, he told them that according to the Ethiopian ambassador in Washington, Ethiopia would stop counterterrorism cooperation with the United States if Congress went ahead with a planned vote on a resolution calling for human rights protections and inclusive governance in the country (H. Res. 128). Continue reading H. Res 128 has been indefinitely postponed

Somaliland: President Silanyo met the three Candidates, National Leaders to Uphold National Unity Highest

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(Hargeisasun)-His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Siilaanyo”, invited all candidates of the November Presidential … More Somaliland: President Silanyo met the three Candidates, National Leaders to Uphold National Unity Highest

Turkey Militarization in Horn of Africa

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( Hargeisasun)Turkey, the most oppressive regime in Europe, is destroying the fragile  failed state  of Somalia. Recently, they armed a  rebel group in Somaliland called Katume to pressure Somaliland to be in its camp; however, Somaliland leaders have rejected  Erdogon  and his hegemonic Aka Kamal empire. The most bizarre political behavior of Turkey is to compete  with Saudi Arabia to be the leader of Sunni sect of Islam while they are siding with Iran, Russia  and Syria to maim  and massacre innocent Muslim people in  the world. Lately, they are arming Somalis in Mogadishu so that they can  destabilize Somaliland  and other regional peaceful countries.

Continue reading Turkey Militarization in Horn of Africa

Oromo-Somali conundrum: Can Ethiopia tame the Liyu police?

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Written by Zecharias Zelalem
Ethiopia says hundreds of Oromos and Somalis killed and hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced from their homes in still ongoing violent clashes in the Eastern part of the country. Continue reading Oromo-Somali conundrum: Can Ethiopia tame the Liyu police?

Testing the waters: Somaliland dives into the international arena

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By Jason Patinkin for The Messenger


With a sea breeze to his back, Ali Farah Negeye greets the lunch crowd at the Al Xayat restaurant in the Somaliland port city of Berbera. For the last fifteen years, he’s served lemonade and fried barracuda to a steady stream of regulars, who debate the topics of the day while watching fishing skiffs motor past the half-sunken hulls of ruined cargo ships. In the last year or so, though, Negeye says he’s seen new arrivals at the restaurant, mostly from other parts of Somaliland or its diaspora, but also a trickle of investors and tourists from the United Arab Emirates. “I can feel more customers,” Negeye says, as he relaxes following the afternoon rush. “People are understanding day after day the importance of Berbera.”

This is a welcome change for Negeye. For the last quarter century, there’s been little interest in Berbera, despite being along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. In 1991, Somaliland declared its independence from the rest of Somalia after a brutal civil war that killed tens of thousands of people. As Mogadishu fell into the anarchy from which it has yet to escape, Somaliland plodded along on its own, enjoying peace as it built a nascent democracy. While Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti are stuck in the tight grip of autocratic regimes, and Somalia and the Sudans suffer endless wars, Somaliland in its isolation has earned a reputation for relatively successful democracy and stability.

Negeye’s new customers signal that foreigners are taking a closer took at Somaliland again, and the government in the capital Hargeisa is responding. In the last six months, Somaliland’s authorities have entered into two long-term deals with the UAE to expand Berbera’s port and build a military base. The two projects, if completed, would bring nearly 700 million dollars in investment and might overhaul Somaliland’s economy.

But the deals bring considerable risks, too. Somaliland’s location along Red Sea shipping routes is also the crossroads of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East – the two most war-ridden regions on Earth. The two deals thrust Somaliland into a number of overlapping, high stakes political and economic rivalries involving the UAE, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other nations. Transforming Somaliland into a coveted piece of this regional chess board thus threatens to undermine the unique progress the breakaway state has made over the last 26 years.

“If you do try to play this role in international geopolitics, it’s a very risky game,” says Harry Verhoeven, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. “The rewards are of course very lucrative and that’s why you want to play the game, but getting it wrong can be potentially devastating.”

“Inviting interference”

Somaliland’s strategic importance has been known for centuries, evident in the architecture left behind by the various empires and fortune-seekers who passed through the city over the years. Up a small hill from the port, the minaret of a 19th-century Egyptian-Turkish mosque juts above the crumbling walls of former British colonial mansions and officers’ clubs. In the old city, storefronts originally built by Yemeni Jews and Indian traders now house teashops and private homes. The port itself is a product of modern imperialism: the Soviets built the current site in the 1970s, before the Americans took it over in the 1980s when Somalia switched its allegiance on the Cold War proxy battlefield.

The deals with the UAE could help return Berbera to its former prominence. The $442 million, 30-year port deal with Dubai Ports World (DPWorld), passed by Somaliland’s parliament in August 2016, would boost annual container capacity twenty-fold. Somaliland’s government estimates the deal will result in thousands of construction and service jobs, as well as millions of dollars a year in government revenue through profit sharing.

In Berbera, many in the business class looks forward to the port’s development. “People are expecting impact in a good way because the port will get investment,” says Negeye. “If we get a good investment for the port I expect that the business and the movement of the city will increase.”

Underpinning the port’s success is trade with landlocked Ethiopia, Somaliland’s closest ally and with 90 million people by far its largest neighbor. Currently, Ethiopia has access to only one modern seaport in Djibouti, and Somaliland hopes to capture some of that market share. To that end, Somaliland’s government says UAE will spend $250 million to build a highway between Berbera and Ethiopia and upgrade Berbera’s Russian-built airport, which boasts one of the longest runways in Africa but has largely fallen out of use, in lieu of paying rent for the military base, whose lease is for 25 years.

“It will be a huge gain for Somaliland,” Osman Abdillahi, Somaliland’s Minister of Information, says of the projects. “It will be a win-win for everybody.”

Yet for the UAE, for whom $700 million is a relatively small amount, Berbera’s allure is hardly economic. Instead, the port and military base appear part of a wider strategy by Arab Gulf nations including the UAE to establish a dominant presence in the Horn of Africa through construction of ports and military bases, training of armed groups, and payoffs of petrodollars to friendly Sunni governments. According to Verhoeven, this rapid investment in the Horn isn’t about trade, but about setting up a shield against Iran and its Shia allies.

“There really is this very strong belief in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi that Iran is hellbent on encircling them and toppling Gulf monarchies,” Verhoeven tells The Messenger. “The first layer of Gulf engagement with the Horn of Africa is this incredibly important proxy war with Iran. This is very much evident in Sudan, but also in a place like Eritrea and places like Somaliland and Somalia.”

So far, the UAE has a port and military base in Assab in Eritrea, from where it launches attacks on Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels as part of the Saudi-led coalition. UAE has another base in Mogadishu, where UAE and Qatar are said to have poured money into recent elections, and whose government has voiced support for the coalition. UAE’s military has trained the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) into one of the most professional Somali armed groups, while DP World – the same UAE port company now in Berbera – plans to revamp the Puntland port of Bosasso. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, plans to build its own military base in Djibouti. Further north, Gulf states have pumped dollars into Sudan, reestablishing ties with the African nation which previously had been allied to Iran. Khartoum now contributes forces to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as well, and has hosted joint exercises with Saudi Arabia’s air force.

For some observers, the Gulf’s military interest in the Horn is alarming, and its arrival in Somaliland marks a dangerous new phase. “One of the reasons Somaliland survived and Somalia didn’t from 1991 is because Somalia was interfered by everyone. Somaliland wasn’t,” Guleid Ahmed Jama, chairman of the Hargeisa-based Human Rights Centre, told The Messenger. “We were very suspicious of interference. Now we are inviting interference.”

“Dangerous places”

Street scene - Berbera
A woman stands in the doorway of her home in the middle of a block of colonial era buildings.

One oft-cited fear is that a military partnership with the UAE could end Somaliland’s neutrality in the civil war in Yemen, which lies across the Gulf of Aden from Berbera. Thousands of Yemeni refugees have crossed to Somaliland to escape that war, and their presence is a daily reminder in Somaliland of the consequences of being sucked into the Sunni-Shia power struggle that has destabilized the Middle East. Yet Somalilanders don’t need foreigners to teach them about the dangers of war.

“Whenever I hear about those military [coming to Berbera], I remember the air force that was killing the people,” says Hinda Osman, a Berbera resident, referring to indiscriminate bombings by Mogadishu during the civil war. Osman’s home in Berbera, a dilapidated colonial mansion which her family shares with a half dozen others, still bears bullet holes sustained from that conflict. When the war ended in 1991, refugee families like hers returned to Berbera and set up camp in whichever war-battered buildings still stood. They’ve lived as squatters ever since, but at least they’ve enjoyed peace, and they’re not willing to risk that any time soon. “If the UAE has a military base here, they will plan to attack from here to Yemen, and then in return, Yemen will also attack us.”

Hussein A. Bulhan, founder of Hargeisa’s Frantz Fanon University and a prominent Somaliland public intellectual, also strongly questions the merits of the UAE base, highlighting the risk of being drawn into the Sunni-Shia power struggle.

“Why does Dubai want a military base in this area? The only obvious thing right now is the war going on in Yemen and close access to that,” he says. “I don’t think it makes sense for us to be involved in a war in the region … I think it would be better that Somaliland becomes more of the island of peace it has been for a while.”

So far it’s unclear whether Somaliland has given UAE permission to launch operations on Yemen from Berbera. Before the signing of the deal, Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Saad Shire told The Messenger that specific point was still under negotiation. Since the signing, he has not answered repeated queries on this point, and the full text of the deal has not been released. Regardless, Shire dismissed concerns that Somaliland would be sucked into a wider regional war.

“Somaliland isn’t really interested or is not aimed to get involved in any war or any conflict in the region or beyond,” he said. “We are just using Berbera’s strategic location to advance our interests, which are really nothing more than development.”

Berbera Scene
An old building in Berbera, showing signs of wear.

But a military deal with one of the belligerents in the Yemen war hardly looks neutral, and Somaliland’s information minister Abdillahi admits they support through official recognition Yemen’s Saudi-backed government over the Houthis. Still, Abdillahi contends the presence of UAE’s military in Berbera will actually strengthen Somaliland’s security, rather than erode it, including through UAE training of Somaliland’s naval and land forces. A recent resurgence of piracy is another reason for Somaliland to take extra precautions as it aims to make Berbera into a hub.

“With the Berbera port and its free zone coming into reality, we need someone to protect our seacoast. We have 850 kilometers, and that has a lot of dangerous places including what’s happening in Yemen, including a lot of pirates,” Abdillahi told The Messenger. “We have been doing all we can to protect, [but] we need their equipment, we need their knowledge. It’s imperative that we have someone who has got more resources than we have.”

Whether UAE base will be a bulwark or not, Somalilanders have already found themselves under fire as a result of the Yemen war. Earlier this month, an Apache helicopter believed to be from the Saudi-led coalition of which UAE is part, attacked a boat of Somali refugees off Yemen’s coast, killing dozens including Somalilanders. Somalia’s government in Mogadishu swiftly condemned the attack and demanded an investigation by the coalition, but Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Shire, who was in Abu Dhabi at the time for negotiations on the military base, was more cautious. When The Messenger asked how the attack would impact Somaliland’s relations with the Gulf and the UAE agreements, he demurred.

“I suppose this is under investigations, so really I cannot say,” he said. “We caution all parties to make sure that civilians are not affected in the conflict.”

Balancing act

Current state of the port.jpg
The current port of Berbera, due for a USD 442 million upgrade

Whether or not the UAE base pulls Somaliland further into Gulf conflicts, the Arab-Iranian competition is only one regional power struggle which Somaliland will have to navigate following the Berbera deals. Perhaps an even greater worry than the Yemen war is that a UAE military base could upset Somaliland’s closest ally, Ethiopia. Though access to a second port would surely please Addis Ababa, the Gulf’s growing presence in the Horn also looks a lot like encirclement of the so-called “Christian Kingdom.” The fact the UAE has close military relationships with Ethiopia’s arch-rivals Eritrea and Egypt further raises alarm for Addis Ababa.

“In Berbera what you’re looking at is obviously from the Ethiopian standpoint concerning,” says Verhoeven. “The worry is that UAE in particular has been snatching up a number of ports in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean area, and certainly substantially increasing its equipment and its military presence. There’s an incredible amount of skepticism about that, especially because Ethiopian and UAE relations are not particularly good.”

regional dynamics
Summary of regional dynamics around Somaliland. Black markers indicate key ports.

Upsetting Ethiopia is hardly in Somaliland’s national interest. Ethiopia is a main trading partner for Somaliland and the only country which accepts Somaliland passports. Ethiopia provides crucial diplomatic support to the breakaway state, including by hosting a large mission from Hargeisa in Addis Ababa, which gives the Somaliland government a platform to lobby the African Union and wider international community. Hargeisa and Addis Ababa also collaborate on security operations, particularly on immigration, and Somalilanders travel to Ethiopia for health care and education. But support from Ethiopia, itself a low-income country dealing with its own political upheavals, only goes so far.

“Somaliland’s government may be trying to send a signal to Addis not to take them for granted, and say, ‘look we might have other partners other than you who are willing to support us and provide us with a lot more cash than you can,’ ” says Verhoeven. “There are obviously important risks to this strategy namely that you end up disappointing the people who are so far the most loyal allies of your country.”

Foreign Minister Shire denied that Ethiopia had any concerns over the UAE deals. He added that Ethiopia recently has been brought on board in the port deal, and will have a 19% stake in the port itself, taking 5% of the total from Somaliland’s originally agreed-upon shares, and 14% of the total from DPWorld. That leaves DPWorld with a majority stake of 51% and Somaliland with just 30%, compared to 35% in the original agreement. Shire said this change to the deal was done for purely economic reasons.

The alliance with UAE draws Somaliland into other regional rivalries as well. The Gulf states have their own competition, with UAE and Qatar vying for equal footing with Saudi Arabia, and for supremacy in the Horn. Internally, clan tensions, and a struggle between Sufism and Salafism – stoked by Saudi influence in particular – continue to fester. The UAE’s investments also up the stakes of Hargeisa’s secession standoff with Mogadishu.

With all of these interests from regional heavy hitters, the question is how tiny Somaliland can balance its various, at-times conflicting allegiances. It’s certinaly not impossible: neighboring Djibouti’s leaders have successfully welcomed France, the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia, all of whom either operate or are building military bases in the port-nation. But Bulhan contends that Somaliland’s leaders are not nearly as savvy as Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guellah, pointing out that a succession of administrations in Hargeisa have all failed over the last twenty five years to gain recognition from a single country. And that lack of recognition in itself opens up Somaliland to greater risk.

“Somaliland because of its non-recognition, isolation, smaller state, is alway more vulnerable to more powerful states,” he says, specifically emphasizing Somaliland’s minority shareholder status in the port deal. “It’s not going to be a question of equity.”

Should UAE break or tamper with the deals, with its military in Berbera, Somaliland may have little recourse to accountability. Even restauranteur Negeye, an enthusiastic supporter of the port, is wary of the military base for this reason. Berbera residents have other concerns too. Numerous women, including Osman, told The Messenger they feared the arrival of foreign soldiers after hearing reports that African Union peacekeepers in southern Somalia raped local women there. (Somaliland’s information minister told The Messenger that UAE troops will not have immunity from prosecution).

But even Djibouti, with its nationhood and strong leadership, has suffered from hosting wealthy foreign militaries. Backed by the largest armies on Earth, President Guellah has entrenched his autocratic rule, tightening his grip on power over the last eighteen years. In Somaliland, there’s a similar potential for an erosion of open government, simply because the sums of money on offer are so large from Hargeisa’s perspective. The port deal, according to a summary distributed to parliament last August, includes an up front payment of 10 million dollars to the government, big money in Somaliland considering its 2016 budget was under 300 million dollars.

“The very fact that you have such neighbors with deep pockets has a very similar effect to say the sudden a discovery of oil. All of a sudden there is a huge inflow of cash, many of it of course unregistered, into the political system, so that raises the stakes of the game,” says Verhoeven. “Capturing the presidency or a ministerial portfolio has just become a lot more lucrative and potentially powerful than it was before, but it also gives far greater power to those who are already in positions of authority, and to buy their way to stay into power and consolidating their grip on it, and in that sense it can potentially be quite destabilizing.”

Indeed, in Somaliland, it appears the democratic backslide has already begun.

“The government’s behavior has changed”

Fishermen in Berbera
Fishermen unload their catch onshore, Berbera, Somaliland

Berbera-based journalist Mubaarik Nirig has been arrested twice in the last two years. He would have been arrested a third time, after interviewing locals opposed to the DP World Port deal, if he hadn’t received a tip that police had a warrant with his name on it. He went into hiding until things cooled down. “Before [the deals] we never had this repressive attitude toward journalists,” he told The Messenger. “Of course there were little disagreements with the local government, small issues, but the national government and the arrests really has started with these two issues.”

The statistics bear this out. Jama, the human rights activist, says the majority of arrests related to freedom of speech in 2015 and 2016 were connected to the port deal. At least four journalists have been arrested this year so far, two of whom in connection with reporting or criticism of the port and military base. None of the arrests have been upheld in courts, but Abdillahi, the information minister has bluntly vowed to arrest other journalists who “threaten national security.”

The free speech crackdown reflects a wider lack of transparency and intolerance of dissent regarding the two projects. Parliament approved terms of the deals without seeing the full text of the agreements. In the case of the port, lawmakers received a detailed summary, but the final deal has never been made public. The revelation that the government has brought Ethiopia on board indicates the port deal remains mutable even after parliamentary approval, but there’s little public information of how it is being changed.

The deal for the military base is even more opaque. Parliament approved the basic terms’ of the deal without debate in a chaotic session in which opposing lawmakers were thrown out. The deal itself was believed to be the work of a small coterie of individuals close to the president, including his son-in-law who serves as Somaliland’s representative to the UAE and the Minister for the Presidency. And the fact that the talks were completed in the last year of the current administration further fuel suspicions of underhandedness.

“It’s not democratic. They talk about parliamentarians having made a decision, but they’re not even legitimate to be here,” says Bulhan, referring to the fact that Somaliland’s parliamentarians have sat in office for over a decade without re-election. “The democracy is degenerating out of these desperations.”

There was no substantive local consultation over the two projects, either. Even supporters of the port, like Yusuf Abdillahi Gulled, the director of Fair Fishing, an organization that promotes small-scale fishermen in Berbera, say bypassing locals was a mistake. “It was supposed to be a town hall meeting where all the people in the local communities come up, asked questions, proposed ideas,” he told The Messenger last August, shortly after parliament approved of the port deal. “For illiterate people which is the majority of our people, they cannot understand how things are, so they need to be confronted and have a meeting with them and tell them this investment will help their lives.”

With the lack of open discussion and transparency on the terms of the two UAE deals, negative rumors have flourished, stoked by local politicians who have seen their patronage networks upended with DPWorld’s arrival. There are widely held beliefs among Berbera residents that the land for the military base was purchased for just 1.2 million dollars and that DPWorld will conduct mass layoffs of port workers as they implement automation. Officials could probably assuage such fears with explanation and outreach — mass job cuts haven’t played out so far, for instance. Instead, the government has met local outcry with outright repression.

In August, troops deployed in Berbera’s streets when demonstrators planned to protest the sudden removal of the port manager. The demonstrators then cancelled their action. Later, the governor in Berbera banned public meetings from being held without prior government approval. Two weeks after DPWorld assumed control of the port, police arrested striking port workers complaining about pay. Days later, Somaliland’s National Security Minister banned all meetings to discuss the UAE military base.

“Essentially, the government’s behavior has changed,” says Nirig.

‘De facto’ recognition

View from Al-Xayat
View from Al Xayat restaurant in the Somaliland port city of Berbera.

From his top floor office on Frantz Fanon University’s Hargeisa campus, Bulhan downplays the recent turmoil surrounding the UAE deals. He takes the longer view: Somaliland’s citizens were the ones who built the country after the war, he says, and they will carry on regardless of their leaders. He says that the government’s backslide on rights and transparency, though disappointing, is not surprising. Twenty five years of stability and fragile democracy has not resulted in recognition from the region or the west, so Hargeisa is looking elsewhere, despite the risks.

“I’ve been here for 21 years, and I see a society being rebuilt from total ruin,” he says. “It did a remarkable thing, but then these things are not sustainable in the long term [without recognition].”

Somaliland’s government seems to agree. Abdillahi, the information minister, makes clear that the hope for recognition is one reasons they’re looking to the Gulf. “We believe that if UAE has invested a billion dollars or more in Somaliland that’s a game changer for the international community,” he says. “They have their tentacles reaching a lot of different places, like an octopus, and we believe within that reach Somaliland will benefit in the long run, including recognition.”

Foreign Minister Shire is even more bullish: “I think the fact that we signed agreements with countries is itself a sign of recognition,” he said. “Somaliland is a de facto country.”

It’s an argument that doesn’t sway everyone in Berbera. Unless recognition is part of the deal, many residents told The Messenger, they have no reason to believe UAE will bestow it. But after a quarter century of isolation, it’s clear that Somaliland’s government is diving headfirst into the uncharted waters of increased foreign engagement anyway.

Back at Al-Xayat restaurant, Negeye gazes upon the ruins and potential in Berbera’s harbor. “Berbera will become an international place where all the world will come,” he says. What that will mean for the people of Somaliland remains an open question.

Continue reading Testing the waters: Somaliland dives into the international arena

Federal forces intervene in Somali-Oromia conflict

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Embassy of Somalia in Addis Ababa: “One thing we can confirm is that the ID is fake and is not the ID of the SNA Forces of Somalia.”

Just five months after the federal government announced resolution in Somali and Oromia regional states boarder conflict, the two regional administrations have found themselves, yet again, in another deadly conflict and very tense political standoff.

It is to be recalled that the two administrations were said to have resolved their differences along the expanse of border territory they share with one another. The settlement was an extension of a referendum which was conducted in 2005 to determine the fate of the communities who live along the border towns of the two regions.

During the agreement, the two leaders’ (Lema Megersa of Oromia and Abdi Mohammed of Somali) displayed a historic gesture of unity where the two regions appeared to have resolved their issues and were said to have reached an agreement to complete the border demarcation process pursuant of the 2005 referendum.

However, this gesture could not last long as the two regions immersed into another round of conflict and severe political confrontation unprecedented in contemporary Ethiopian history.

This time around, the conflict took a bigger scale. It was not like the old small clashed between pastoralist communities in border areas of the two regions.

The two regional governments were also seen accusing one another publicly.

The Oromia Regional State accused the Somali Regional State for the killing and displacing Oromos in the border area and in the region.

In his Facebook page, Addisu Arega, Oromia Regional State Communication Bureau head, has accused the Somali Region’s security forces of beating and killing one former local official and three more individuals. This, according to Addisu, led to the escalation of public uproar in the town of Aweday.

Last week, Addisu has also accused Somali Region for its security apparatus is allegedly employing a member of the National Army of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

In an official email response to The Reporter, Somalia Embassy in Addis Ababa has said that it is following the matter closely and regarding the involvement of its army officer in the conflict it denied the accusation completely.

“One thing we can confirm is that the ID is a fake and that it is not issued by the Somalia National Army,” reads the email.

The Somali Region, on the other hand, accused the Oromia Region of killing Somalis in Aweday.

According to the Somali regional government more than 50 Somalis were killed in Awoday.

This escalation of conflict has then led to the involvement of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces this week along the conflicting flashpoints.

So far, no official information was given by the federal government regarding the number of people who have lost their lives in the recent clash or any confirmation as to the number flying out of both regions.

The federal government, however, said that it is trying to stabilize the tension and trying to help those who are displaced from the two regions.

Continue reading Federal forces intervene in Somali-Oromia conflict

Role of liyu police in control of khat (Miraa) trade is another under reported issue

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Boom for Kenyan miraa traders as shortage hits Somaliland

Miraa transport vehicles along the Nyeri-Nanyuki highway on September 8, 2017. It’s a boom for Kenyan miraa traders who have now foumd a lucrative market in Somaliland following a shortage resulting from conflicts in neighbouring Ethiopia which also sells the herb. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary

  • Ethiopia supplies most of the khat consumed in Hargeisa, Somaliland and Djibouti.
  • Nyamita spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said they are now delivering 12 tonnes of miraa to Hargeisa since last week.
  • Somaliland broke away from the Federal Republic of Somalia in 199

Continue reading Role of liyu police in control of khat (Miraa) trade is another under reported issue

Where are African scholars in African studies?

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Many postcolonial regimes are still mired in protracted civil wars and violence, struggling economies, corruption, bad leadership, broken social and economic infrastructure and famine.  It is rather dishonest for a country whose main university could be closed for months by presidential decree, whose professors strike year in year out over emoluments, to complain about an overwhelming European or American presence in their studies.

Continue reading Where are African scholars in African studies?

Egypt and controlling the Nile: From mythologies to real politics

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River Nile is steeped in Egyptian mythology. But the waters of the Nile are a crucial resource for several other countries. Conflicts over the world’s longest river, even in recent times, have almost led to war. This should not be the case. The Nile waters must be managed as a source of cooperation and sustainable development for all the countries involved.

1Introduction

The Nile River occupies a central place in the general perception of all Egyptians since the pre-Christian era of ancient Egypt. The river has been the nucleus of the ancient world and its lifeline, thereby justifying the sanctification of its waters. Claiming a lack of knowledge on the part of the ancient Egyptians could not have been why they perceived that the source of the Nile water was of divine nature. The origin of the Nile’s water and its flow for the ancient Egyptians was the god Noun, the Lord of the eternal water, who was the cradle of all living beings including the gods themselves.

It is possible that this sacred development of the Nile River, which dominated ancient Egyptian thought, is due to two fundamental reasons. First, Egypt was considered the gift of the Nile, thereby explaining the constant respect and veneration it received from the Egyptians; and, second, the inconceivable notion that the lifeline of Egypt stems from outside its holy lands. Based on this belief in the holy progression of the Nile, this great river became a determinant of Egypt as a homeland and its national identity.

As Emile Ludwig identified, the Egyptian god Amun deemed Egypt as the country where the Nile flooded from, and that anyone who drinks from the Nile after Elephantine is Egyptian [1]. Moreover, Seneca argued: “All rivers were ‘vulgares aqua’ but the Nile was the ‘most noble’ of all watercourses.”[2] The modern Egyptian thinker, Jamal Himdan, emphasized this sense of thinking by saying: “The first civilization was the fruit of a blissful union between Egypt and the Nile. If history is the father of the Egyptians, Egypt is the mother of the world, and the Nile is simply the greatest ancestor of human civilization”.[4]

2Danger emanating from the South

There is no doubt that this link between Egypt and the Nile River has created a sense of insecurity coupled with the existence of a serious threat to the lives of Egyptians with the possibility of a disruption in the flow of the Nile waters. An excerpt from the reign of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty of Egypt is a clear indication of the effects of halting the flow of the Nile water after the famine hit Egypt for seven years, which reads:

“I was in mourning on my throne, those of the palace were in grief …. Because Hapy had failed to come in time. In a period of seven years, Grain was scant, Kernels were discharged up … Every man robbed his twin … Children cried … The hearts of the old were needed … Temples were shut, Shrines covered with dust, everyone was in distress …. I consulted One of the staff of the Ibis, the Chief lector-priest of Imhotep, son of Ptah South-of-the-Wall …. He departed, he returned to me quickly, He let me know the flow of Hapy …” [5]

These ancient legends were also associated with Christianity and Islam, where the great river remained linked to the general Egyptian conscience as a point of holiness and reverence. The relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia remained uncertain because of Egypt’s belief in Ethiopia’s ability to divert the river, which could cause famine and overall losses for Egyptians. After Christianity entered Ethiopia, Egypt sent the Bishop of the Ethiopian Church from Alexandria. Consequently, there has been a sense of stability in the regional balance of power as a result of this religious variable. If Ethiopia is the source of water, then Egypt is the home of the abun – the Egyptian metropolitan bishop – for Ethiopia.

The conversion of the Nile and its domination became a religious issue in the Egyptian and Ethiopian imagination, and until the 19th century it was associated with a religious miracle in Christianity. In Islam, Muslims have conquered the Nile River and considered it the master of the rivers, and they have added to it an element of holiness, as many Muslim scholars have linked it to many Islamic texts. Furthermore, some historical sources refer to the so-called “Nile Charter” which the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab wrote about, citing the annual celebration of the Nile’s flood, where the flood was emanating from God Himself and not from the river. [6] This reveals the centrality of the Nile River in Egyptian customs since the era of ancient religions and even Islam.

Along with the prevailing Egyptian religious perception of the Nile River, the evidence confirming that the origins of the Nile waters lie outside the Egyptian borders has prompted those who ruled Egypt throughout history to try to dominate the tropical region where the Nile waters embark from. The father of modern Egypt, Mohamed Ali, summoned a group of European engineers to come to Egypt who unanimously establish that the Nile’s sources under the control of any other country besides Egypt would be detrimental to Egypt’s livelihood and future. Hence, with Muhammad Ali Pasha and after him with Khedive Ismail, great attention was given to pinpointing and revealing the origins of the Nile. Muhammad Ali traveled himself and oversaw his campaigns and their administration that were sent to the Sudan and beyond. It was no secret that the aim of these scouting campaigns for the Nile sources was to secure the flow of water coming to Egypt.[7]

The Nasserite leadership recognized the importance of water in constructing the new national ideology, where the role of the Nile waters was not limited to ascertaining the Egyptian identity, but it had become a source of life which wars could be fought over. Egypt had already been able to expand the 1959 agreement with Sudan separately, with no other river state joining it. Therefore, it has become commonplace, as mentioned in another study from the Egyptian national perspective, to describe the Nile River as Egypt’s principle artery of life. It is life itself for Egypt. This statement does not apply to the same extent to the other riparian states. Therefore, one of the major strategic threats to Egyptian national security is the threat to its vital resources that lay beyond Egyptian borders.

Despite the construction of the high dam, by which Nasser sought to modernize Egypt by transforming it into the ‘Japan of Africa’, he did not free the Egyptian administration from the external threat complex. In effect, the waters of the Nile will always remain one of the main determinants of Egyptian foreign policy towards the basin countries. The matter of securing the flow of Nile water remains dominant in Egypt’s decision-making, regardless of who controls Cairo.

On a number of occasions, Egypt has demonstrated its preparedness to go to war if the situation so warranted. For example, in the 1970s when Ethiopia tried to establish projects in the Blue Nile without consultation with other fluvial states, Egypt warned Addis Ababa against such destabilizing actions. Egypt made it clear to Ethiopia that Cairo was prepared to go to war to protect its national interests. [8] Egypt’s interests in Sudan are centered on the desire for stability in Khartoum. Specifically, the successful governments in Egypt have been concerned with potential hostile leaders taking over in Sudan. Similarly, any internal or external threats to stability in Sudan are viewed with great concern by Egyptian foreign policy-makers. [9]

For decades, Egypt has become the dominant water power in the Nile Basin region, where it has veto power vis-à-vis other riparian states, which has kept the situation as it is in the Nile Basin region. No other Nile state has dared, as John Waterbury would say, to engage in a confrontation with Egypt, especially with respect to Egypt’s national security. [10]

The Egyptian political and media discourse, which has prevailed in all its intellectual and ideological diversity since the beginning of the new millennium, has the same historic imperatives that bind Egypt and its sacred right to the waters of the Nile. Perhaps what was written by one of the famous Egyptian writers in 2010 reflects Egyptian concerns regarding its water security. Fahmi Huwaidi explained that:

“The Egyptian antiquities embodied the fact that the Nile River is the source of life in Egypt through a painting depicting a boat combining the pharaoh with the symbol of the Nile Hapi with the symbol of justice Ma’at.”

Egyptian researchers considered this painting as a representation of the map of Egypt since the dawn of history, based on the three ruling arms of power: the Pharaoh, the Nile, and the Mediator of Justice, Ma’at. This is what the Pharaohs defended and protected for thousands of years, and what modern Egyptians are struggling to install and preserve in the twenty-first century. While it was thought that the Pharaoh’s order and the Maat’s justice order occupied the nation’s top security concerns, it came as a surprise to the Egyptians that the power arm of Hapi’s was in danger. It is true that the danger is neither immediate nor imminent, but the initial precepts are not misguided.

Egypt’s historical share of the Nile’s stable waters since 1929 and its agreement with Sudan in 1959 is now under scrutiny, in the same instance that Egypt realized that it needed to add another 11 billion to its share because of the sizeable increase in population and consumption rates. In light of its need for a bigger share of the Nile’s resources, Egypt is staggered that they have to fight a long battle to maintain their original stake. [11]

There is a strong belief in Egyptian and Arab thought that there is a correlation between the claim of the upstream countries to reconsider the Nile water quotas in the mid-nineties, with the return of Israel to the region. At a time when Egypt withdrew itself from its African involvement after the assassination attempt on President Mubarak in 1995 in Addis Ababa, Israeli and international policies have been active in order to encircle Egyptian security in its African extension [12]. The former Egyptian minister of irrigation and water resources, Mohammed Abu Zayd, expressed this thought when he stated in February 2009, that there was an Israeli-American plan to pressure Egypt to supply water to Tel Aviv, by raising the issue of the internationalization of rivers.

There are many Egyptian trends, especially those under the veil of Arab nationalism, which speak of the waters of the Nile as an Arab issue. In other words, as Helmi Sharawi says, Afro-Arab cooperation is not only to resolve African economic crises, but also to contribute to the Arab-African issues, foremost of which is the Nile water crisis. The water problem is a direct complication for Egypt, and its responsibility is necessarily distributed amongst many international regional and national parties, to currently include the Gulf States as well, as a key player in the balancing of investments in Ethiopia. Therefore, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is regarded as an Arab Gulf issue and not just a purely Egyptian affair.

3Challenge to Egyptian water hegemony

Despite the announcement of the Ethiopian government on the construction of GERD in 2011 and the agreement to form a tripartite committee to assess the impact of the dam on the downstream state (Egypt and Sudan) in September of the same year, Egypt did not realize the dimensions of this danger coming from the South until 28 May 2013, when Ethiopia diverted the course of the Blue Nile, marking the beginning of the actual implementation phase. The Egyptian reaction, which was embodied by the meeting of the former President Mohamed Morsi with politicians and activists, combined the scenes of tragedy and absurdity at the same time, which may have implied Egypt’s power decline in its regional environment. The follow-up assessment of the developments in the Upper Nile states over the past ten years showed that Egypt’s strategic thinking failed to understand its regional variables and remained locked in the old delusions that viewed Egypt as a dominant regional force, while the situation remained the same in the Nile Basin countries. In effect, three major transformations can be pointed out that have affected the water interactions in the Nile Basin countries and led to the crisis of filling the GERD [13]:

First: The evolution of the political and economic bloc in East Africa, which took on an institutional character in 1999 when the East African Community Agreement was signed, which included Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, all from the Upper Nile countries. There was no doubt that this regional movement began to call for the need to review the international conventions on the Nile, particularly the 1929 Agreement between Egypt and the United Kingdom, and the Nile Water Agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959 concerning the establishment of the Aswan Dam in Egypt. This review signaled the first step towards rejecting the legal regime governing the Nile Basin, which was inherited from the colonial era.

Second: the strategy of the Ethiopian dams, which was adopted by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, aims to maximize the use of Ethiopia’s water potential by investing in water infrastructure. This vision entails building more than twenty dams, headed by the GERD, to achieve the goal of transforming Ethiopia into a major hydroelectric regional power. Ethiopia is seeking to produce about 8,000 megawatts of electricity over the next decade, exporting the surplus to its neighbours such as Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt.

Third: Signing the Nile Basin Initiative in 1999, where all river countries, including Egypt, adopted a new vision that seeks to achieve sustainable economic and social development through unbiased and equitable use of the Nile waters. The negotiation process continued until the framework cooperation agreement was reached in 2010, which was rejected by Egypt and Sudan because it did not stipulate the natural and historical rights of the two downstream states in the Nile waters. Moreover, this initiative resulted in the withdrawal of Egypt’s veto power, which it has historically enjoyed with respect to the water projects of the Upper Nile countries.

4. Transformation in the regional ‘balance of power’ equation

It is not difficult to understand the prior transformations that led to the union of the Upper Nile countries under the leadership of Ethiopia, in the face of both Egypt and Sudan and rejecting the principle of relying on the Nile River’s legal system inherited from the colonial era. This leads us to distinguish between three types of change and the transformation witnessed by the dynamics of interaction within the Nile Basin region.

The first change was the shift in the regional balance of power in favour of Ethiopia with the decline of Egypt’s and Sudan’s power. The secession of South Sudan and the re-partitioning of Somalia served as a strategic adversary of the Arab regional system in its African expansion, and at the same time was a strategic addition to neighbouring non-Arab states such as Ethiopia and Kenya, also from Upper Nile region. It can be said that the effects of the Arab Spring and the American and European war on terrorism, have strengthened Ethiopia’s regional standing as a strategic ally, that can be relied upon by the United States and Europe in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. On the other hand, Egypt has resigned itself and suffered from the absence of political consensus at home as well as a lack of vision in its foreign policy, which signaled its retreat as the regional player ‘to be reckoned with.’

The second change was the shift in national governance systems in the Nile Basin countries. There has been a kind of relative political stability with a gradual increase in economic growth rates. Ethiopia presents a striking example of this. The ruling front has been able to resolve the question of national identity through the adoption of the federal formula of government and statehood since 1991 and has achieved great success in imposing security and achieving reasonable rates of economic growth. Ethiopia is, therefore, seeking to exploit its water resources not only in the production of electricity, but also in providing a large water supply that can be relied upon throughout the year in agriculture, thereby limiting the negative impact of climate change. This transformation would change Ethiopia’s typecast from a state dependent on foreign aid to an energy-exporting state, thus reinforcing its regional standing.

The third alteration was the shift in the issue of financing the dams and building them through various international mechanisms and institutions without relying on the traditional financing mechanisms monopolized by the World Bank, the African Development Bank or other international institutions, which required Egypt’s prior approval for water projects in the Upper Nile states. The Ethiopian government has been able to promote its own dam building program through its green environment-friendly development approach to strengthen ties with the United States and Western countries. China’s entry in this scene as an important player in the financing of water infrastructure construction projects in the Nile Basin countries added further complications to the Egyptian position, in the face of these new regional challenges.

The most serious of all is the transformation of public opinion in the Upper Nile countries with regards to water and the need to redistribute it among all the riparian countries of the Nile. It is striking that there are hostile tendencies against the downstream countries, especially Egypt, to the point of accusing the Egyptian policy of not taking into consideration the interests of other basin countries. As a result, the Egypt is in dire need to further analyze and reflect on the causes and justifications of these changes, to cultivate a constructive way of dealing with these developments.

5. Assessing the GERD from a different perspective

It is interesting that most of what has been written or reported on regarding the effects of the GERD on Egyptian national security was not without exaggeration or understatement. The figures and estimates expressed are merely judgments that may reflect a particular political vision or misunderstanding on many occasions. Interestingly, the Ethiopian decision to build the GERD is not surprising in itself, since Ethiopia has already built a number of dams and hydroelectric power stations on the banks of some of the tributaries and rivers in its territory. One of the most striking examples is the Gibe III Dam along the Omo River. However, these dams are not comparable to the GERD, which is expected to generate 6,000MW of electricity. This dam, if completed, will become one of the top ten dams in the world, raising Ethiopia’s regional profile and placing it in the ranks of emerging African powers.

This may explain the secret of popular cohesion and political determination to move ahead with the implementation of the Ethiopian Dam package. Ethiopia’s national spirit emerged with the purchase of the instruments for financing the dam by citizens from both inside and outside Ethiopia, which resulted in the extension of the financing process towards the construction of the dam itself. Interestingly, these moments of Ethiopian nationalistic pride are a reflection and a reminder of the atmosphere during Nasserite Egypt with the construction of the Aswan Dam. According to the vision of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the GERD will achieve the interests of both Sudan and Egypt by preventing floods and providing land for irrigation. Thus, in his view, both Egypt and Sudan should contribute to the costs of building the dam by 20% to 30% each. However, according to Zenawi “due to the lack of justice in the water system of the Nile Basin countries, Ethiopia will bear alone the costs of building the dam.”

Perhaps the most difficult situation that Egypt will face is the process of filling the reservoir dam, which depends on the varied rates of rainfall. If the rates of rainfall are high, the process of filling the reservoir may take two years at most. In the case of drought and less rainfall, the filling process will take longer. Not only that, but the amount of water in the dam reservoir will have a significant impact on the flow of Nile water. In effect, the rate of water flow in the Nile will be affected at varying degrees, that is, Egypt’s share of Nile water.

Ethiopia seems to be aware of the magnitude of the problems that may occur when the dam’s reservoir is filled. In order to avoid this, the process of filling the reservoir in a responsible manner and without preventing or detaining water from the downstream countries should be done, as it would be unacceptable according to the rules of international dealings, and would be lacking on moral grounds. The implication here is the impossibility of predicting the scopes of reservoir filling, as well as other adverse impacts of dams on the environment, such as high salinity, pollution and soil erosion in the surrounding areas. All of this may lead to the need for dialogue and negotiation amongst all parties. However, the danger of building the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam is not part of the Nile Basin Initiative, the Framework Cooperation Agreement or any bilateral agreement between Ethiopia and Egypt. It is just an Ethiopian project that is part of a national strategy to build dams and use water resources. The lack of coordination between the Nile Basin countries, especially Ethiopia and Egypt with regard to the use of water, will cause great harm to the downstream countries.

Although there are some reports warning about future water wars, historical evidence does not support this trend, as water should be a source of cooperation, not conflict. If some Egyptian leaders have threatened to use the military option to control the sources of the Nile and ensure the continuation of Egyptian hegemony, it would be very difficult to execute, as it will do more harm than good. The late President Anwar Sadat had declared that he was ready to use military force to destroy any water installations in Ethiopia that could harm Egyptian water security. Diplomatic leaks also reported that former President Hosni Mubarak asked for a military base to be built south of Khartoum, to enable Egyptian forces to hit Ethiopian water targets on the Blue Nile. In any event, any direct military action against the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam could lead to floods and landslides, as well as incalculable consequences that would harm the Egyptian-Ethiopian relations in particular and the Egyptian-Ethiopian relations in general.

A review of prevailing folklore emphasizes the concepts of competition and hostility. The biography of Saif bin Yazan, an essential figure in Mamluk culture and history, indicated the predominance of war and confrontation between the Arabs and Ethiopia. The complex location and population explains the Ethiopian public’s perception of fear towards Arabs and the Arab world. Ethiopia is a landlocked nation and has a heterogeneous mix of population, which has been enshrined as “an island of Christianity amidst a sea of Islam.” Moreover, the Arab stance in support of Eritrea’s independence may have reinforced this Ethiopian fear, with most Ethiopians seeing that they have lost legitimate access to the sea, particularly the Port of Assab [14].

However, in the early seventh century, Abyssinia was the refuge and sanctuary for Muslims whom the Prophet (PBUH) had ordered to migrate there, because there was a righteous king in whose presence no one was wronged. Thus, the land of Abyssinia was a middle world (Dar al-Hijra) between the world of Islam and the war, in the history of Arabs and Muslims. In the future, Ethiopia would represent unmistakable symbolic connotations in the march for unity and the African struggle for liberation and renaissance, which reflects its embrace of the most important institutions of African common action. This means that there is a dire need for a strategic dialogue between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which all issues of common concern are discussed, as well as thinking of contemporary models and frameworks for building balanced relations between the two parties.

In any case, Egypt must adopt a clear strategic vision to deal with the Nile water issue, for the purpose of meeting the challenges of water security, in light of the remarkable transformations witnessed by the Upper Nile countries over the last ten years. The Egyptian response should be thought-provoking, as non-traditional alternatives and policies should be used, including the consideration of other projects to increase Egypt’s water resources. This may necessitate the adoption of a conciliatory political and media discourse vis-a-vis Ethiopia and the Nile Basin countries, as the language of escalation and threats has always proven counterproductive. Conceivably, the best discourse is to focus on the Nile water as a source of cooperation and sustainable development for all people living on both ends of the river.

The resort to the discourse of historical interests and lack of respect for the urgent developmental demands of the Upper Nile countries is unrealistic and does not take into account the changes of geo-strategic formulation in the new Nile basin. In todays’ world, the most acceptable slogan should be “no harm done and no harm bestowed” in water interactions between the Nile Basin countries.

Conclusion

We should stand against the rhetoric that calls for the drums of war and uses scare tactics when it pertains to the Nile waters and threats to Egyptian presence, by saying that we are facing a war of survival. Similarly, we reject the hate speech and incitement against Egypt adopted by some writers and officials in Upper Nile states. We must all rise above, and adopt the values of dialogue and tolerance to promote the common interests and benefits of the peoples of the Nile Basin. As the wise Imam Ali, may God have mercy on him, once said: O Malik, people are two types, either your brother in religion or your counterpart in creation.”

* HAMDY A. HASSAN is a Professor of Political Science at Zayed University & Cairo University.

Endnotes

[1] Emil Ludwig and Mary H. Lindsay. The Nile: The Life-Story of a River. New York: Pyramid Books, 1963.

[2] Ahmed El Naggar Nile River: Destiny and Humans Cairo: Dar El Shorouk, 2014.

[3] Jamal Himdan, The Character of Egypt, Cairo: Alam Alkotob,1987, 787.

[4] Miriam Lichtheim. Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

[5] Mohammed Hussein Heikal, Farouk Omar, Cairo: Dar Al Ma’arif, p. 167.

[6] Mohamed Sadiq Ismail, Arab water and future warsCairo: Arab Publishing and Distribution 2012

[7] Hamdy Hassan and Ahmed al Rasheedy, “The Nile River and Egyptian Foreign Policy Interests” in Korwa G. Adar and Nicasius A. Check. Cooperative Diplomacy, Regional Stability and National Interests: The Nile River and theRiparian States. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2011.

[8] Himdan op.cit, pp. 939-94.

[9] Waterbury, John. Hydropolitics of the Nile Valley. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1979.

[10] See more at: http://www.alkhaleej.ae/studiesandopinions/page/8ed7c5a1-3fd2-4d3e-9e81-2b1bcfd9ad63#sthash.pZpViFBO.dpuf Accessed on 13March 2017.

[11] Abdel Moati Zaki, the Israeli role in the water conflict in the Nile River Basin , Cairo:al Wafd Newspaper, 5 September 2011.

[12] Hamdy Hassan, Contending hegemony and the new security systems in Africa, African Journal of Political science and International Relations, Vol. 9(5), pp. 159-169, May2015.

[13] Hilm?i?Sha?ra?wi?. Afro Arab Times. Cairo: Dar El Alam El Thalith, 2005.

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