Somalia’s Security and the Future of East Africa – Analysis – Eurasia Review
The greater integration of Somalia into East Africa is a major undertaking of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose election in May 2022 was notable for a political program that sees integration as key to security in the Horn of Africa.
The Somali president has criss-crossed the region to advance his country’s future and asked to join the East African Community, a regional intergovernmental organization made up of seven countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa Sudan and Uganda. The link with Tanzania is important when it comes to developing coastal trade links between the two countries.
Recently, Mohamud traveled to Arusha in Tanzania to seek an official invitation for Somalia to join the EAC common market. The Somali leader had a vision to join the group over the past 10 years. However, with its personality politics and competing agendas, the organization is far from perfect. Despite this, the region is seeing an increase in regional trade, with many companies expanding their operations to other countries in sectors such as finance, manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, and education.
Security is a key feature that Mohamud must ensure. By addressing concerns about the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabab now, he will save blood and toil later in a region that suffers from or is close to pockets of extreme poverty and inter-ethnic conflict.
Somalia’s many regional supporters have worked with these countries to begin to address regional security issues.
Mohamud traveled to Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Kenya, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to discuss options for stopping Al-Shabab to improve economic viability, while participating in counter operations more broadly. against terrorism.
The discussions also focused on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is at the heart of the disagreement between Addis Ababa and Cairo. The Somali president is trying to balance the water problem with the more serious threat from Al-Shabab.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are working together to limit Al-Shabab’s activities. Mustafa Omar, president of the Somali region of Ethiopia, said Ethiopia planned to create a “security buffer zone” aimed at countering attacks by the terror group. An increased military presence in Djibouti monitoring Al-Shabab is part of a growing web of security connections to fight terrorism and keep major infrastructure projects running smoothly.
These include the LAPSSET – Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor Programme, the largest and most ambitious infrastructure initiative in East Africa, which brings together Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. However, three years after Kenya and its landlocked neighbors invested funds to build infrastructure linking their economies, little has happened. A number of LAPSSET projects have been blocked after Al-Shabab terrorists attacked and killed local residents, forcing contractors to flee. A joint counterterrorism effort against Al-Shabab is essential for these “access” projects to succeed.
The Somali president is calling for increased attention to the threat posed by Al-Shabab, which has stepped up its operations since taking office. The terror group, which has been fighting Somali governments and African Union peacekeepers since 2007, wants to show it can operate in Ethiopia, as well as Somalia and Kenya.
Nearly 500 al-Shabab fighters crossed into eastern Ethiopia last week, clashing with Ethiopian forces along the border. Reports suggest the terrorists may have crossed up to 100 miles into the country before being caught, and further attacks are considered likely.
The United States is taking the Somali situation seriously after seeing China use the “debt trap” policy between these countries. Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, announced a $476 million aid package to address Somalia’s humanitarian crisis after meeting with Mohamud. The United States has provided nearly $707 million in assistance to the people of Somalia in 2022.
Meanwhile, other countries, such as Turkey, are organizing, training and equipping Somali counterterrorism forces as part of the combined security efforts in the Horn of Africa.
Overall, the Somali leader is setting Mogadishu on a path that can lead to greater integration of East African states by addressing both the realities of counterterrorism and economic necessity.