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What Somalia stands to gain from Ethiopia’s ongoing Tigray war

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Ethiopia’s Tigray: New frontier for regional interests

By Mohamed Sheikh Nor
Posted on Monday, 11 October 2021 16:48

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, introduces Prime Minister Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed to his ministers in Mogadishu, Somali, 16 June 2018. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

After assuming office in early 2018, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed embarked on radical reforms that have since led to political realignment in his country, spilling over into the horn region. The charismatic and energetic Abiy was only 42 when he took over in 2018 and immediately reached out to long-time rivals Somalia and Eritrea, thereby forging a tripartite alliance that seems to be shaping into a new regional order. But has the Tigray war helped or held-back Somalia’s ambitions with Ethiopia? We find out in this second part of our series.

This is part 2 of a 4-part series

Historically, Somalia has viewed Ethiopia with suspicion, but Abiy’s diplomatic charm won over President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’, who at the time was only one year into his presidency.

When the tripartite alliance was created between Abiy, Farmaajo, and Afwerki, analysts believe one of its main, albeit indirect, goals was to oppose federalism. Without that base, Eritrea’s strongman Isaias Afwerki is unlikely to have participated.

For Farmaajo, Ethiopia’s reconciliatory diplomacy provided him with the opportunity to consolidate power in Mogadishu. After its inception, he exploited the alliance to undermine federalism in Somalia and suppress opposition, mainly from the country’s elite.

Also in this in Depth:

Former enemies, Ethiopia and Eritrea are fighting on the same side in Tigray war

The first reason that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 was that he had initiated successful peace talks with the East African country’s existential rival, Eritrea. The benefits of the peace process had been immediately obvious to the region and the international community.