August 8, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Dina Mufti, has said that the Egyptian government’s intention to establish a military base in the East African region, particularly in Somaliland, will not come at the expense of Ethiopia’s interests and safety.
Addressing a weekly news briefing, Mufti stressed that, “Egypt as a sovereign country reserves the right to establish relations with any country [in the region]. But this should not come at the expense of Ethiopia’s stability.”
Recent reports have said Egypt is trying to establish a military base in Somaliland, a breakaway state in northern Somalia not recognized as an independent country.
Late in July, a delegation from Egypt met with Musa Bihi Abdi, Somaliland’s self-declared leader, and reportedly proposed setting up a military camp in the northwestern part of the territory.
The Ethiopian government said it was following developments very closely. “That is a red line for us,” he said, adding that Ethiopia wants friendly relations with Somaliland, despite its non-state status.
Some analysts see Egypt’s move as retaliation against Somalia, a country that supports Ethiopia’s rights on the Nile as Ethiopia and Egypt continue to wrangle over Ethiopia’s $5 billion hydroelectric Nile dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
After the failure of US-sponsored talks this February between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, the African Union brought the three countries together for continued negotiations in June.
Last week, Ethiopia submitted a proposal on the filling of the dam – a proposal met with misgivings by Egypt and Sudan, which asked for time to review it.