Oodweyne News - Latest Somali News Update

Press Release: STATEMENT REGARDING IGAD’S ESTABLISHMENT OF A TASKFORCEON THE RED SEA AND THE GULF OF ADEN

The Republic of Somaliland welcomes the establishment of the Task Force on the Red Sea and
the Gulf of Aden by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on 4 April 2019.
This initiative, which aims, among other objectives, to ‘develop a common position to protect the
security and economic interests in the region’, at long last recognises the strategic importance of
Red Sea to the peace and prosperity of the Horn, and provides a platform for participatory
diplomatic and political engagement from all regional actors to positively benefit from historic
change sweeping our territories.
However, Somaliland, despite being a major stakeholder in Red Sea governance, regrets the lack
of consultation and inclusivity which it was afforded within the process behind the initiation and
formulation of the Task Force. At the same time, it remains unclear what role, if any, the Task
Force envisions for Somaliland. The Government of Somaliland believes that any initiative to
coordinate a response to changing Red Sea environs that does not include Somaliland in a
meaningful way will lack the credibility, capability and representativeness necessary to contend
with competing multinational cooperation efforts in these waters.
The Republic of Somaliland has more coastline alongside the Red Sea (850 kilometers) than any
other IGAD member state. Through a longstanding commitment to internal peace, stability and
social cohesion, the Somaliland Government and people ensured that the territorial waters
straddling this coastline have remained safe and secure, thus facilitating the safe passage of
commercial shipping and naval traffic that is so vital to global trade. The major up scaling and
expansion of the Berbera Port in the coming years will make the city a key strategic hub within
IGAD’s integrated and maritime-facing regional trade network. And, in cooperation with
initiatives such as EUCAP, and in partnership with a variety of bilateral aid partners, including
the UK funded modern operational management software systems (ASAAS), Somaliland is
developing professional and modernised patrol, surveillance, rescue and response capabilities to
guarantee the smooth operation of such maritime trade, in the face of threats such as piracy,
organised crime and smuggling networks.

There is no escaping the fact that Somaliland has become a major diplomatic, political, economic
and security force in the region. It’s border cooperation with neighbours, which spans issues of
human trafficking, illicit trade in goods and border security, has been vital in protecting countries
such as Ethiopia and Djibouti from the Horn’s trouble spots, where volatility, conflict and danger
prevail. Somaliland has borne the brunt of this burden, dedicating nearly half of its meager
budget to insulating IGAD member states from conflict across the sea in Yemen and elsewhere
in the Middle East. In recognition of this reality, Somaliland entrusts that IGAD’s leadership and
member states will make all efforts to include Somaliland in the Task Force, in a manner
reflective of, and respectful towards, its importance and potential contribution.
Somaliland is an independent and sovereign country, and any plan of action set forth by
neighbouring governments that pertains to or impacts its territorial waters without the active
participation and consent of our representatives is unacceptable to Somaliland. Safeguarding the
security and sustainability of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden concerns all countries that share
these coastal waters, and Somaliland supports multilateral approaches to our common challenges
and opportunities. However, Somaliland will not recognize endeavours that exclude legitimate
stakeholders based on arbitrary, irrelevant or discriminatory criteria.
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, stability and prosperity as intimately tied into that of the region as a whole, and will
continue to work with IGAD and its member states on all matters and efforts in which shared
interests can be pursued in an equal mutually beneficial manner.