Somaliland is warming up to a potential agreement with Israel as the latter continues enter into diplomatic ties with Islamic nations.
Israeli intelligence director Eli Cohen in a recent interview said his country was entering into a peace deal with two countries, one in the Horn of Africa and one not far from the region.
And three members of Somaliland parliament, have asked their government recognize the existence of Israel and establish relations with Tel Aviv.
The three, Ahmed Mohamed Diriye Nac Nac, a member of Somaliland’s House of Representatives, Abdikadir indho Indho said, with Saed Elimi said it was important for Somaliland to recognize Israel.
Israel is preparing to sign an agreement with Sudan but Cohen is quoted saying another Horn of Africa nation- which he did not mention, is also in line to enter into formal agreements with his country.
“A normalization agreement with Sudan is coming soon. This historical agreement may be signed before the new year,” Eli Cohen told KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in the wake of last week’s controversial deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The deal with UAE is what has aroused excitement in Somaliland that the internationally unrecognized country may be Israel’s partner in the Horn of Africa.
Somaliland envoy to Kenya Bashe Omar Awil said the agreement is a good example of alliances between regional countries that are interested in regional stability and cooperation, and emphasizes eternal aspiration of reaching peace with neighbors.
“As a peace loving people we support the historic normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in exchange for taking off annexation of the table(suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank). The agreement is a good example of alliances between regional countries that are interested in regional stability and cooperation, and emphasizes eternal aspiration of reaching peace with neighbors,” Omar stated.
The UAE is Somaliland’s biggest development partner playing a massive role in the expansion of the Port of Berbera which is strategic for its maritime and military interest.
The strategic importance of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has been acknowledged by both regional powers and global superpowers. The Red Sea is of importance to Israel as it gives its ships access to the Arabia Sea.
The Red Sea has long represented a critical link in a network of global waterways stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean to the Pacific—a strategic and economic thoroughfare one U.S. defense official dubbed the “Interstate-95 of the planet.”
With its 460-mile Gulf of Aden coastline, Somaliland is an important asset to any defense of the Bab el-Mandab and the Red Sea, as well as counterpiracy and counterterrorism operations interdiction of weapons smuggling. Berbera, its main port city, is not only a modern, deep-water facility, but is also just a short drive from an airport used during the Cold War as U.S. logistical hub and base for the Rapid Deployment Force.
Israel has over the years had growing national interest in the Red Sea region, a key shipping route. Israel has maintained the region is a key route for illegal arms.
In 2010, Yigal Palmor, the serving as Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Daily saying his government was ready to recognize Somaliland. He cited Israel was the first state to recognize Somaliland in 1960 when it received its independence from Great Britain.
“Israel was the first nation to recognize Somaliland and indeed was the first country the State of Israel has recognized, after it received its Independence from Great Britain. When it unified with Southern Somalia, again we were the first to recognize it. We always wanted a relationship with a Muslim country in East Africa and which we can share the Red sea with.”
Palmor said his country was ready to restore Somaliland’s old status however currently the two states have no bilateral ties.
Somaliland and Israel have so much in common having both been politically isolated. While Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, Somaliland is the only Muslim democracy in the region.
Israel has ties with number of East African countries including Tanzania, Uganda and even Djibouti. While Somaliland enjoys good relations with Horn of Africa nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.