Egyptian Analysts Discuss Ethiopian Reaction over Alleged Military Base in Somaliland

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Egyptian tanks take part in the Arab Shield joint military exercises at Mohamed Naguib military base in El-Hamam near the Mediterranean coast, about 240 kilometres northwest of the capital Cairo on November 15, 2018. - Forces from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan are taking part in the maneuvers. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

THT: A debate over the pros and cons as well as rights of Egypt acquiring a military base in Somaliland and more so the Ethiopian reaction is raging among political and security analysts in a number of major Cairo based media outlets.

With many arguments on the subject worthy is a report by Al-Monitor newspaper published last week entitled “Ethiopia angry over Egypt’s alleged establishment of a military base in Somaliland”, adding that Ethiopia’s angry reaction was followed by an Egyptian delegation meeting with President Musa Bihi in Hargeisa.

The gist of the Ethiopian reaction the visit and subsequent meet noted Al Monitor was unconfirmed reports that discussing culminated with Egypt being availed a military base in Somaliland.

According to Al-Monitor the report, which was not released by the Egyptian government, was quoted by a Kenyan media outlet, with Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti responding strongly on July 27, 2020.

Retired Egyptian Maj. Gen. Abdul Menhem Katou told Al-Monitor that Ethiopia is trying to turn the international and African community against Egypt by showing that the Ethiopian people are treated unjustly. He added that one of Ethiopia’s strategies is accusing the Egyptian state of controlling the Nile.

Katou stressed that the Ethiopian statements are inaccurate and there is no truth to the rumour that Egypt is working to establish a military base in Somaliland.

Katou said Addis Ababa is waging a media war on Egypt to drum up international sympathy in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis. Meanwhile, he added, military intervention over the GERD crisis is not an option for Egypt, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has recently said that the only solution is through peaceful negotiations.

The General said Ethiopia is mismanaging the GERD crisis and trying to tarnish Egypt’s image, but it will not work because international observers widely condemn Ethiopia’s actions in the Nile river affair, which threatens to bring instability to the region. Bringing the case to the UN Security Council would not not go well for Addis Ababa.

Hani Raslan, head of Nile Basin studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor that Ethiopia’s actions violate international regulations. Ethiopia has no right to interfere with Egypt’s relations with other states, he said.

Raslan noted that the GERD negotiations have become futile since the dam has already been constructed and is being filled and that no Egypt-Somaliland agreement could affect the GERD crisis.

Jamal Zahran, a professor of political science at Suez Canal University, told Al-Monitor, “Ethiopia is capitalizing on Egypt’s diplomatic and peaceful response to make false allegations. I believe this has made Ethiopia greedier when it comes to Egypt. The 2015 agreement must be cancelled because it is not in the interest of Egypt. The GERD crisis is ongoing and Egypt will suffer from the long-term effects.”

Ahmed Ezzeddine, a researcher on Egyptian affairs, told Al-Monitor that Ethiopia does not want Egypt to defend its national security. All the Ethiopian statements against Egypt are intended to block negotiations that could result in a balanced solution between the two countries in a way that maintains Ethiopia’s right to development and Egypt’s water share, he explained. No Egyptian or Somali official has made a statement about establishing an Egyptian military base in Somalia, he added.

Although there are several foreign military bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia sees an Egyptian military base in Somalia as a threat to its security, he said.

Ezzedine said that Egypt will not opt for military intervention in the GERD crisis with Ethiopia, despite its army’s strength. The two countries already have an agreement that Ethiopia still has not implemented. Egypt is serious about reaching a peaceful solution, but Ethiopia wants to manipulate the international community for sympathy.

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