Thursday, September 01, 2005

To Enhance its New Africa Policy, Egypt Is Urged To Adopt A More Constructive And Less Defensive Policy Toward Somaliland’s Quest For Recognition.

Dr. Saad Sh. Osman Noor,Somaliland’s Representative in the USA
In an article by the prestigious Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy magazine titled “Egypt Shifts Its Geo-Strategic Policy Priority Toward Africa”, Egypt was urged to adopt a new policy toward Ethiopia and Somaliland. The article stated that the Egyptian government has embarked upon a major new direction in its geo-strategic policy essentially forsaking the Middle East as an area of strategic leverage and focus and turning instead toward an African orientation. This was attributed to what is considered as Egypt’s declined influence in the Middle East as a result of the US policies in the region, the growing independence of Middle East states from Egypt’s cultural and political influence, and frustrations with economic returns from its Middle Eastern focus.

At the same time, it is believed that Egypt is conscious that it could regain considerable stature from an improved African profile which would assist its bid for one of two permanent seats for Africa in a possibly-expanded United Nations Security Council. In this regard it is plausible that even if Egypt won a permanent UNSC seat on the basis of representing Africa, It would substantially restore its fortunes, as well in the Arab East.

According to the Article, the new policy was outlined in a new paper by the ruling Egyptian National Democratic Party (NDP) – Al-Hizbo Al Watani Al Dimocrati -- entitled “Egypt and Africa.” The paper said that Egypt would propose the formation of a new organization, the Nile Basin Organization for Cooperation and Development to strength its interests in, and control over, the Nile River flow which is central to the Egyptian welfare. The Egyptian government has long said that the only guaranteed casus belli against Egyptian interests would be interference in its access to the Nile River flow and this, in fact, already governs much of Egypt’s existing “Africa policy”.

As such, the article elaborated: Egyptian policy toward Ethiopia has been suspicious and constraining and it is for this reason that Egypt supports Eritrea at present. And it is within this context it has supported Djiboutian moves which have, in certain aspects, been inimical to Ethiopia. The article continues:

“At the same time Egypt has gone further in trying to limit Ethiopian power by acting as the single most significant barrier within the African Union (AU) and the Arab league in blocking recognition of the reality of the sovereignty of Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland which controls the coastline for 900km east of Djibouti, including the ports of Berbera Maid and Zeila, has offered to make these ports (particularly Berbera) available to Ethiopia to export its produce and for imports. By delaying the recognition of Somaliland—something sought by the UK government, for example --- Egypt constrains Ethiopia’s revival and thus its ability to challenge Egypt on the Nile issues. The Egyptian government has used this argument with the Arab League. However, its refusal to recognize Somaliland speaks, among other things, for its fear that the country, which is strategically located and virtually totally Moslem, could be used by Israel for its naval and military projection on the mouth of the Read Sea and in the southern shores of the Gulf of Aden.

The UN has delayed recognition of Somaliland until “regional bodies” such as the AU and the Arab League recognize it. Egypt has thus already used its “Africa policy” successfully in the projection of its interests, but the new Africa-centric policy may well see the need to refine its approach toward the Nile headwaters and to perhaps deal more constructively (and less defensively) toward Ethiopia and Somaliland.”
Submitted By:

Dr. Saad Sh. Osman Noor,
Somaliland’s Representative in the USA

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