“Countries in the Region were aware of the MoU with Somaliland,” said Redwan Hussien, National security adviser to PM Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia recently signed an MoU with Somaliland. Somaliland formally acknowledged granting Ethiopia sea access for the Naval Forces in exchange for recognition. Subsequently, the Ethiopian government clarified that part of the MoU “includes provisions for the Ethiopian government to make an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding Somaliland’s efforts to gain recognition.”

Recently, Redwan Hussien said that since the government announced its intention in October, envoys have been sent twice to neighboring countries, particularly to East African nations, and they have been aware since then, except for specific details. He mentioned that what they didn’t know was when Musa Behi would come and whether the issues of shares and recognition would be included in the MoU.

Redwan Hussien, Countries In The Region Were Aware Of The MoU With Somaliland
Redwan Hussein, the National Security Adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Here is the full transcript of Redwan Hussien’s speech:

Ethiopia seemed to have an opportunity to access the sea from the north. When everyone talks about the seaport, it is the Red Sea. When talking about the sea, it is Eritrea; when talking about the sea, it is Assab.  We have taken a new direction to reverse this narrative now.

Ethiopia has opportunities around it, and it has the capacity to use the opportunities around it as well as goodwill to share. In one way or another, Ethiopia should have access to the sea, and many people have been buying this idea. There is no observation that Ethiopia is looking for something unfair; it is ‘don’t clash, don’t create problems; do it the peaceful way’.

Ethiopia’s needs and concerns are correct; its population growth is on the right path; its economy is on the right path; and regional problems are clear. Until we signed this MoU, the research that was being done by the UN institutions, the information of some big countries, and by our own non-governmental think tanks was that the Ethiopian government would either invade Eritrea or Somaliland. It would create a disturbance in the Awdal area and entirely devastate the region.

On top of this, we know of a draft that was submitted and returned before it became official. We know who is doing this; we know that there are Ethiopians involved in it. When engaging with major nations, our consistent message has been, ‘We seek peace, not war.’

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Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on January 1, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Despite our assurances, skepticism persists, with them insisting, ‘No, you will engage in conflict; we doubt your intentions.’ When tensions hinted at confrontation, we were surprised by choosing the path of peace, catching them off guard. Our unpredictability proved beneficial in this instance.

Since the government announced its intention, envoys have been sent twice to neighboring countries, generally to East African countries. What they didn’t know was when Muse Bihi would come and whether the issue of shares and recognition would be included in the MoU. Therefore, they did not give much thought to this issue because they took it as if we were wandering around the Assab area.

Now, people are shocked when it becomes public, but most people fear that ‘you will create problems, so we have enough problems on our hands: Ukraine, Gaza; if you want to help us, do it peacefully, and we will help you, so I don’t think the angle of predictability deficit is correct. We did not give a seminar to every NGO, but we explained it to every concerned government.”