Somaliland has taken offence with Somalia following the appointment of a Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Somalia on Wednesday named Yusuf Garaad Omar as Somalia’s Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden but Somaliland now says the appointment is an affront to its independence.
A statement from the Somaliland ministry of Foreign Affairs questioned how Somalia expects its appointee to represent the country in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden issues yet it does not control the two sea routes.
“The Republic of Somaliland is an independent state that fully controls its land, sea and air borders. Somaliland is located in a strategic spot in Africa, particularly in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.” Somaliland’s statement said.
Somaliland has written to the international community, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to ignore the appointment.
Somaliland has maintained it remains an independent state separate of Somalia.
The two countries operated as one between 1960 and 1991 when Somaliland walked off the union after the start of the civil war. Somaliland was previously a separate country under the British rule while Somalia was ruled by Italy. Theo states merged after independence but the union failed to work out leading to Somaliland walking away.
In the statement, Somaliland said it will not accept any representation of its affairs internationally by an envoy appointed by the Somali government.
Somaliland reiterated it had a crucial stake on regional stability and progress and, would keep a close eye on new developments that have a bearing on regional balances given the republic’s geostrategic location.
Somaliland has jealously guarded its stake as a player in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden affairs.
The Somaliland Port of Berbera is considered one of the most strategic in the Horn of Africa and its expansion by the United Arab Emirates’ DP World is seen as a game changer in the region.
Early in the year, Somaliland government stated any discussion or coalition to handle the Red Sea must involve the country.
Somaliland President Musa Bihi spoke out against the coalition of forces that want to form a task force in the Red Sea to control and manage security matters.
Bihi said: “ Somaliland would never accept foreign troops to take charge of security matters for our land or sea without consulting us.”
He was referring to an earlier meeting of foreign ministers of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan in Djibouti whose discussions focused on the geopolitical and security challenges that countries on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden were facing.
Later, a task force was established to build a common position and strategy to respond to the challenges and opportunities in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
But Somaliland which boasts of a longer chunk of the coastline alongside the Red Sea (850 kilometres) than any other IGAD member state said it has to be included in the task force.
The internationally unrecognized nation stated it has long been committed to safeguarding and ensuring that the territorial waters straddling its 850-kilometre coastline remain safe and secure from piracy and other forms of terrorism and thus must be respected and recognized as a key stakeholder.
The Somaliland government said it recognizes the strategic importance of the Red Sea for the peace and security of the region and in principal welcomes the need to develop a common position to protect these waters.
“Because of that recognition Somaliland has long been committed to safeguarding and ensuring that the territorial waters straddling its 850 KM coastline remain safe and secure from piracy and other forms of terrorism.”
“We believe that safeguarding the security of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden waters concerns all countries that share these coastal waters, and we support multilateral solutions to our common challenges.”