As tensions rock the Middle East, the Horn of Africa is following suit, with the New Year presenting a critical resurgence of Al Shabab, an Al-Qaida affiliate, helped along by geopolitics that strike at the very heart of Somalia’s territorial sovereignty.
On the surface of the issue is a deal between Ethiopia and the autonomous region of Somaliland that will give landlocked Ethiopia the right to use the port of Somaliland, a region attempting to gain international recognition as a sovereign state and not part of Somalia.
The Port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden is on the coast of Somaliland, and it’s a lifeline of desperation for Ethiopia. The deal has enraged Somalia’s government, which has condemned the deal as illegal. The deal also comes on the heels of what Somali had thought was some sort of progress in talks with Somaliland less than a month ago.
Even if the Somali government doesn’t take some form of action directed at what amounts to Ethiopia’s declaration of Somaliland as a sovereign nation, radical Al Shabab will–and has, already.
On Wednesday, Al Shabab attacked a UN helicopter after an emergency landing in Al Shabaab territory. Five passengers were taken hostage, one was killed while attempting to escape, and one is still missing.
The brazen Ethiopia-Somaliland deal represents the perfect opportunity for Al Shabab to launch attacks under the guise of the savior of Somalia’s…