Egypt is of the view that the breakaway of Somaliland and other regions of Somalia is in sharp contrast to its self-interest. It is now struggling to create a government who pursue a greater Somalia like Siyad Barre and to enter deadly war with Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. The miscalculation is that the region will be busy in civil wars and Egypt will remain unchecked in utilizing the resources of the Nile River fully.
By Zeraye Hailemariam
Unlike in the past, Egyptian hidden agenda to keep the Horn of Africa in crisis came to be challenged by the states in the region. For passionate spectators of Egypt’s policy and strategy towards the region, the inexcusable wind blowing from its heart cannot be a bolt from the blue. Surely, it has been there for the past centuries and will not cease to stop soon. Irrespective of the various colours the Egyptian leaders who reigned either through bloodshed or popular elections wear, commonly they have been pursuing two major policies towards the horn of Africa based on destructive and self-centred calculation from day one.
While the first strategy has been to Islamize the non-Muslim community, and make the non-Arab Muslims Arabs, the second strategy has been to fully control the Nile River riparian countries by any means possible.
The calculation was meant to secure full control of the resources of the Nile River. To achieve these two policies, Egyptian leaders applied various successful and unsuccessful tactics. For example, they waged futile direct invasion and proxy against Ethiopia. Egypt with the help of Britain (its former colonialist) invaded Ethiopia 130 years ago, during the time of Ethiopian Emperor, Yohannes the 4th and was shamefully pulsed. Egyptian forces who tried to invade Ethiopia were not left to tell the story to their children.
They have also been trying to wage proxy war on Ethiopia via Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. It was public knowledge that the Egyptians initiated and encouraged Isayas Afworqi to invade Ethiopia in 1997 via Badme.
However, it went wrong and backfired on both enemies as Ethiopia was able to take the advantage to seriously formulate robust economic and security policies that help to halt such conspiracy. The incident changed the power balance in the region and Ethiopia emerged as a responsible state to the peace and stability of the region. Taking lessons from the past, Ethiopia has successfully strengthened its military and security forces, both of which have effectively secured internal political stability and become peacekeepers of the whole region. Therefore, Ethiopia locked the opportunity for Egypt to penetrate internally and externally in its internal affairs. Ethiopia has managed to block both gateways, Eritrea and Somalia, where Egypt was using to penetrate into the region.
In the 1920s, the then Egyptian leaders highly interfered in the internal affairs of Somalia in an attempt to give the Somali people an Arab identity using brotherhood ideologies. To some extent, some thriving destructive jobs were achieved in this destructive project.
The seeds sown by the brotherhood ideologies to plant radical Islamists produced the current terrorists in Somalia who are hopelessly ruining the country. When the communist president Siyad Barre was ousted from power, the Egyptians supported the various warlords to seize the opportunity and make Somalia She’ria state. However, with the support of the international community, mainly the Somalis themselves, the mercenaries of Egypt were evaporated into the air.
The proxy war of Egypt against Ethiopia came to an end with this. It is not, however, a secret project that Egypt was behind the Eritrean government in financing, training and arming the various anti-peace elements in Somalia who were against Ethiopia and the region. Yet, it is naïve to conclude that Egypt stopped its support to reorganize and strengthen the outlawed warlords in Somalia since it is its core policy to destabilize the whole region. The role Egypt played in spoiling the horn of Africa is more destructive than its son, Isayas Afworqi of Eritrea.
When Egyptian realized that it was impossible to directly engage Ethiopia, they changed their tactics to regrouping the various local extremist Muslims and other power monger outlawed political groups.
Accordingly, it invested huge money and time to strengthen terrorist groups like OLF, Ginbot 7, and other imported religious extremists to disrupt Ethiopia’s fast and deepening economic and democratization process. Together, the Eritrean regime and Egyptian leaders have been attempting unsuccessful terror acts to obscure the peace and stability of Ethiopia by sending suicide bombers and other armed groups who in various times were caught red-handed by the Ethiopian security forces.
During the time of President Mursi, Egyptian higher officials were lively seen in Television while consulting how to destabilize Ethiopia and destroy the ongoing construction of the Renaissance Dam by arming local armed elements.
The OLF leaders were also seen presently in Cairo while asking the Egyptian leaders for help to devastate the Dam. The two recent hard facts exposed in Cairo prove that the Egyptian leaders never sleep if they do not realize their peace spoiling mission against Ethiopia and the region and meet their greedy policy. Therefore, the red lights from Egypt now is demonstrating that the win-win policy that Ethiopia follows is not wholeheartedly received by Egypt. Thus, Ethiopia should not trust Egypt but must re-arrange its foreign policy in a proactive way from now on wards. Any country or groups who plan to import Egypt’s destructive policy to the region in general and to Ethiopia in particular must be crashed.
What is more appealing here is that some countries of the region who were victims of the appalling policy of Egypt has begun to tell them to stop meddling in the affairs of the region.
It is, for example, rumoured that the South Sudanese President Salva kiir refused to Egyptians to train his forces and step foot in his country, understanding the evil intention they would execute in the region.
Further, the Somalis and Somaliland authorities again exposed the greedy and destructive policy of Egypt in the horn recently. “The brotherly relationship between Ethiopia and Somaliland cannot be devastated by Egyptian government and other states in the world” said Somaliland Defense Minister Ahmed Haji during an interview with state media on 24th April, 2016.
Adami was reacting to reports that Egyptian government has declared interests in supporting the armed forces of Somalia at this particular moment when authorities in Mogadisho are at loggerheads with Somaliland and Egyptians are in pursuit of continuing to secure full supply of the Nile waters regardless of the rest riparian needs. He also denoted the provision of weapons never help Somalia, but escalate the situation, he added.
In his open letter to Egyptian leaders on April 12, 2016, the Somaliland Foreign Minister, Mohamed Abdilahi said “You Egypt shall realize that in the 21st century, Somalis will not die for your cause”.
The foreign Minister reminded Egyptian leaders that the ill intentions in destabilizing the region for their short-sighted interest and greedy objectives of solely benefiting the Nile River waters at the expense of the upstream states are no more acceptable. The official statement of the foreign minister exposed the hidden agenda of Egypt to wage proxy war against Ethiopia using the blood of Somalis.
The hypocritical motive of Egyptian officials visit to Somalia is also another evidence to destabilize the region. In the official visit, led by the former Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia, military and intelligence agencies were also included. This intention is to support Mogadisho forces against Somaliland with the aim to creating greater Somalia and then wage war against Ethiopia.
As one scholar put it rightly, Egypt is of the view that the breakaway of Somaliland and other regions of Somalia is in sharp contrast to its self-interest. It is now struggling to create a government who pursue a greater Somalia like Siyad Barre and to enter deadly war with Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. The miscalculation is that the region will be busy in civil wars and Egypt will remain unchecked in utilizing the resources of the Nile River fully.
The shamefulness Egyptian delegation reflected so much interest stretching from gaining air force base to military ports in Somalia under the cover of supporting Saudi forces in the operation against Yemeni rebels. However, it is said that the authorities in Mogadisho like their brothers in Somaliland refused to the questions of Egyptian, understanding their ill intentions to destabilize the region through the blood of Somalis.
Anyone can understand that how much the destructive policy of Egypt is nakedly exposed and rejected.
What should be done then?
Ethiopia should follow the movement of the Egyptians groups carefully. Having in mind that Egypt is digging everything possible to thwart the peace and economic development of Ethiopia, Ethiopia should also quickly adapt its foreign policy to contain the hidden agenda of Egypt.
Ethiopia’s foreign policy must quickly take the violent and dishonest policy of Egypt. Hence, the Ethiopians and the people of the region should not waste a second to defend their internal peace and brotherly ties. The government of Ethiopia should extensively use the media to make its own people aware of the ghosts in Cairo.
Egypt is unquestionably meddling to obscure the ongoing regional economic and people to people ties since it foolishly believed it is against its selfish-interest. However, it will surely be futile attempt since peace, economic and other projects in the region are going as per the interest of the people of the region. IGAD and the cooperation among the Horn countries should be aware of the intentions of Egypt and should have relevant policies. Ethiopia should tighten its mutual cooperation with Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, South Sudan, the Sudan and Kenya more than any time.
Ethiopia should again follow a proactive foreign policy towards Eritrea and Egypt. Careful political job should be conducted in South Sudan to prevent Egypt from gaining base there. It also must continue reducing internal political unrest first. Locally, good governance should be sustained to satisfy the demands of Ethiopians and the steadily economic development should be diversified and maintained.
It should also quickly realize the completion of the construction of the Renaissance Dam. The economic and security cooperation among the Horn must be tightened. The home-grown mercenaries of Egypt should be exposed to the Ethiopians and get rid of. Any country which gives any bases to Egypt should be watched carefully. Last but not least, Ethiopia should inform the international community – AU, EU, USA, and the UN – about the destructive policy of Egypt in the region.
The Egyptian must also know that they are constantly upsetting the Ethiopian people to the extent that it is become intolerable. The only policy Egypt should pursue is the win-win situation, not the other way around. The choice is either to swim or sink together.
Note: The writer is a scholar of International Relations and is researcher in the Horn of Africa.