Ethiopia seeks to deepen ties with Somalia amid Tigray conflict
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Ethiopia is keen to deepen ties with her neighbor Somalia, it has now emerged, just a few days after residents of Dolow in the Gedo region reported suspicions of movement of Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] troops across the border.
Last week, eyewitnesses said Ethiopian troops crossed over to Somalia from the Somali region to pursue Al-Shabaab but it was not immediately clear whether the federal government of Somalia was privy to the incident. The soldiers had initially established a buffer zone deep in Somalia after Al-Shabaab crossed over.
Abshir Omar Jama, Somalia's Foreign Affairs minister, said Ethiopia has expressed interest in further deepening ties with Mogadishu, noting that Addis Ababa was keen to strengthen ties to "the peak" under the administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
“There is a need from the current government of PM Abiy Ahmed Ali that wants the relationship and cooperation between Somalia and Ethiopia at its peak," the minister said without revealing many details about the latest interests from Addis Ababa.
A fortnight ago, Hassan Sheikh visited Ethiopia where the two leaders discussed enhanced cooperation between the two countries, which have been closely collaborating in the fight against Al-Shabaab. Ethiopia has close to 4,000 ENDF soldiers serving in African Union Transition Mission [ATMIS] in Somalia.
While Al-Shabaab militants are facing rebellion from Somali locals and the military, the militants have in the recent past tried to cross over to Ethiopia. But Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Somali regional troops successfully repulsed the attempts, and have since increased surveillance along the Ethiopia-Somalia border.
But back in Ethiopia, the country is facing endless challenges with the war in Tigray being the thorn in the flesh. With ENDF activating bombardments in Tigray against the wish of the international community, there is pressure from different quarters to have the warring parties embrace dialogue.