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UN Security Council Holds Closed Consultations on Escalating Ethiopia-Somalia Tensions

By: ATN News

United Nations: In a bid to address the escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, the United Nations Security Council is set to hold closed consultations today under the agenda item "Peace and Security in Africa." The move comes in response to Somalia's urgent request for a meeting, as outlined in a letter to the Council dated January 23.

Scheduled to brief the Security Council members is Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa. France, holding the presidency for January, facilitated these consultations after extensive engagements with the "A3 plus one" grouping, including Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana.

The diplomatic standoff stems from the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland on January 1. While specific details of the MoU remain undisclosed, Somaliland has announced leasing a 20-kilometer sea access to Ethiopian naval forces for 50 years, in exchange for formal recognition. Ethiopia, in its January 3 statement, emphasized obtaining a permanent naval base and maritime services through the agreement.

In response, Somalia has deemed the MoU an "unlawful transgression" of its sovereignty, emphasizing that Somaliland is an integral part of its territory. Acting Foreign Minister Ali Omar, in a letter circulated to Council members on January 23, urged swift condemnation of Ethiopia's actions, citing violations of international law.

Various international organizations have expressed concerns over the situation. On January 9, Mauritania, representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), stressed the importance of respecting Somalia's sovereignty. Similarly, the League of Arab States (LAS) rejected the MoU, declaring it a violation of international law.

The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) convened on January 17, expressing deep concern and calling for restraint and meaningful dialogue. The LAS also held an emergency session on the matter, reaffirming Somaliland as an integral part of Somalia and rejecting the MoU.

Amid the escalating tensions, Ethiopia, in a letter to the Council on January 26, outlined its position on the MoU. The letter highlighted Ethiopia's readiness to engage with the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, asserting that the issue is already under consideration by the AUPSC.

As Council members convene today, the focus is on exchanging views and charting a path forward to preserve regional peace, stability, and security. Tetteh is expected to echo the sentiments of a January 10 phone call between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, emphasizing respect for Somalia's sovereignty and unity.

Key Council members, including China, the UK, and the US, along with the EU, have expressed concerns about the rising tensions and stressed the importance of respecting Somalia's territorial integrity. The discussions are anticipated to delve into the potential security implications for Somalia and the region, particularly concerning ongoing operations against Al-Shabaab.

As the meeting unfolds, members are likely to call for support of regional initiatives, welcoming Obasanjo's engagement. The importance of dialogue, cooperation, and de-escalation will be underlined, with a focus on preventing any actions that could hinder the fight against Al-Shabaab and destabilize the region further.


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