Scaling up geopolitical presences in the strategic location of the Red Sea

Staging a historic and democratic poll last June, Ethiopia on Monday inaugurated a new government headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Fostering Horn Africa integration and increasing presence and geopolitical engagement are among the top priorities the new government outlined to work hard in the upcoming years.

Presenting the new government’s future plans and engagement, President Sahlework Zewde told the joint session of the Houses of Federation and People’s Representatives (HPR) said that Ethiopia’s initiative to protect its economic and security interests along the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Eden shows that Africans would not remain bystanders on matters that concern their region.

The President pointed out that Ethiopia is expected to take viable steps to ensure its benefits in the strategic locations of the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Aden. In collaboration with neighboring countries and organizations in the Horn, the Ethiopian government will aggressively strive to protect its national interest in the region.

The Horn of African region is one strategic area in the world and superpowers are highly interested and engaged in it. Hosting dozens of military bases, the region is being militarized and is increasingly becoming an epicenter of confrontation. Accordingly, Ethiopia’s plan to strengthen its involvement in the strategic region of the Horn and the Red Sea is a must-take step according to experts.

Commenting on the president’s speech, Researcher and Lecturer of Political Science and International Relations at Dire Dawa University Surafel Getahun told The Ethiopian Herald that the region has huge economic potential and is the main route globally and there is the rivalry of global powers to control the area and Ethiopia must not be a bystander and needs to benefit from the resource of the region. It should be among the decisive players in the areas of the Red Sea, Gulf of Eden, and Bab-el-Mandeb.

“Our destiny is better than those superpowers that are highly involved in the region from western and Middle East countries and connecting our mutual developments with those superpowers is also important”.

The rivalry around the region especially in the geopolitical areas of Bab-el- Mandeb will put the interest of Ethiopia at risk and Ethiopia needs to play its part in the region and need to be decisive players, he added.

The Red Sea, Gulf of Eden, and Bab-el-Mandeb need to be Ethiopia’s prior interest from now on, and the country should not stay idle in making use of the Red Sea geopolitical activities to its own best interest in particular and the African countries in general.

Building a strong naval force and scaling up its political engagement is also essential to secure its interests in the regions and beyond.

Over 40 percent of the global market is exchanged via the Horn region and the interest of global superpowers is increasing from time to time. Ethiopia’s proposal towards strong diplomatic and foreign policy which will strengthen ties with the regions and beyond is imperative.

Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Bahir Dar University Yayew Genet for his part said that it is the right time for Ethiopia to secure and regain its position in the region. For the past many years, Ethiopia has not benefited from the red sea areas because of the situation of no war and no peace with Eritrea. The rapprochement with Eritrea will play a significant role for Ethiopia to regain its interest.

The peace deal with Eritrea combining with the proximity of Ethiopia to the area makes the country more advantageous to secure its interests in the region. The relation of the country is turned to more economic integration and geographically Eritrea is closest to the red sea. On the other hand, most of the horn of African countries is highly intertwined by culture, language, and others and this by itself is another opportunity for the integration of the region. On contrary, some of the global powers are not unhappy with the recent horn integration because of the fear of losing hegemony. If the region is more stable and the diplomatic relation between the region is strengthened they can easily avert undue external pressure, he indicated.

Some of the foreign superpowers are exerting undue pressure on Ethiopia to alienate the country from the Red Sea area. In this regard, the new government should design an efficient foreign policy that would increase its engagement in the strategic location.

Luelseged Abebe (P.h.D), peace and security expert told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia’s proposal to strengthen its activities in the Horn and the Red Sea is an exemplary and far-sighted move. Seating near to the region, Ethiopia should be taking the lead to bring African nations together in utilizing the strategic importance of the Horn Africa and the Red Sea region in their interests.

Luelseged said the fact that the newly formed government promises to continue pursuing a foreign policy that gives priority to neighboring countries and the Horn and the Red Sea regions is a worthwhile move. The Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb should be monitored. In the present climate, Djibouti has become the store of the western and the eastern world under the guise of controlling pirates. This is a threat to Ethiopia. All of them have security interests. Whether they have established military bases for controlling pirates or for other purposes, it is to control the region. They also use it as a way of manifesting their power. Hence, Ethiopia’s policy towards the Horn and the Red Sea region is exemplary and will bring peace and security not only to the country alone but to the region, Luelseged noted.

It is to be recalled that President Sahelework said that Ethiopia’s foreign relations will give the ultimate priority to the neighboring states that the country shares borders and communities and the relations will be centered on mutual benefit and brotherhood. Ethiopia recognizes the importance of utilizing strong cultural and linguistic ties with neighboring states to ensure mutual development. Accordingly, Ethiopia’s current foreign policy prioritizes relations with neighboring countries.

“Utilization of cross-border resources will be implemented in a manner that takes into account the principles of cooperation and mutual benefit. People-to-people forums would be established to create all-inclusive cooperation and building strong relations among peoples of the Horn of Africa. By the same token, a strategy that would help strengthen Ethiopia’s relations with neighboring countries and bring sustainable peace, social interaction, economic integration, and common prosperity would be developed.



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