Somalia: Somaliland Demands Seat Among the Stakeholders of the Red Sea

Photo: VOA

Somaliland is demanding to be included among the key stakeholders of the Red Sea.

This after Saudi Arabia formed a bloc that included several Horn of Africa nations on Monday and excluded Somaliland.

Saudi Arabia led Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan to sign a charter establishing what it called 'the Council of Arab and African States bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden'.

But Somaliland stated it has long been committed to safeguarding and ensuring that the territorial waters straddling its 850 kilometer coastline remain safe and secure from piracy and other forms of terrorism and thus must be respected and recognized as a key stakeholder.

In a statement from the Somaliland Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation Ahmed Omer Elmi, the Somaliland government said it recognizes the strategic importance of the Red Sea for the peace and security of the region and in principal welcomes the need to develop a common position to protect these waters.

But the statement added, Somaliland will not accept to be ignored in matters touching on the Red Sea.

" Because of that recognition Somaliland has long been committed to safeguarding and ensuring that the territorial waters straddling its 850 kilometer coastline remain safe and secure from piracy and other forms of terrorism."

"We believe that safeguarding the security of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden waters concerns all countries that share these coastal waters, and we support multilateral solutions to our common challenges."

"We will not recognize the formation of any blocs that exclude legitimate stakeholders based on arbitrary, irrelevant or discriminatory or discriminatory criteria.

"The Republic of Somaliland hereby reiterates its previous position to disregard and not cooperate with the policies, programs, and activities of the Arab/ African member states bordering the Red Sea, so long it's excluded and denied its rightful position among the important stakeholders. Somaliland is a sovereign country and will not delegate its territorial waters to any other country," the Foreign Affairs ministry said in the statement.

The statement further added: "Somaliland looks forward to any cooperation that actively contributes to the security and prosperity of this area, without compromising the sovereignty of any country. Somaliland views its peace, and stability and prosperity as intimately tied into that of the region as a whole and will continue to work with all stakeholders on all matters and efforts in which shared interests can be pursued in an equal mutually beneficial manner."

Early last year, Somaliland demanded to be included in in the Taskforce on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The Somaliland government said then that any initiative to coordinate a response to changing Red Sea environs that does not include them in a meaningful way will lack the credibility, capability and representatives necessary to contend with competing multinational cooperation efforts in these waters.

The IGAD initiative was aimed at developing a common position to boost security and economic interests in the region. This was brought fourth after a meeting by the foreign ministers of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan who gathered in Djibouti and focused their discussions on the geopolitical and security challenges that countries on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden were facing.

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