London (UM) – President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo’s recent state visit to Eritrea and his call for the lifting of all sanctions from Eritrea has caused anger within the Djiboutian government. A statement released by the Djiboutian embassy in Mogadishu expressed its anger at what they felt is “blind” support for a State that is assisting Al-Shabab. Djibouti insists that Eritrea is occupying parts of its territories and holding their prisoners from their past conflict.
What is clear is that the Somali government is stuck between two rival neighbours which must settle their differences before any real regional integration of any sort can happen. The Eritrean-Djibouti conflict is still fresh in both governments minds and the most neutral and respected mediator in the Region is Somalia.
Both Djibouti and Eritrea respect Somalia because of the strong people to people’s relations and the great, open and decisive support the Somali Government of the past provided to both in their struggle for independence. Sadly, Somalia descended into chaos as both Djibouti and Eritrea stabilised. Now, the Somali government has an opportunity to bring both neighbours together and win the peace in the Horn of Africa.
The angry statement from the Djiboutian Government is a real concern but as the whole region works to unite, it is only a matter of time before Djibouti and Eritrea realise that they must work on ending the hostilities. The Somali Government is still trusted and respected by both states and must push this issue through all channels despite the strongly worded Djiboutian statement.
President Farmaajo’s visit to Eritrea is a game changer for the better. Hope must overcome fear and suspicion for regional integration to happen and this realisation by Eritrea and Ethiopia, enemies of more than 20 years, is telling. There is nothing to be gained by cold war like standoff without end and more to build on through reconciliation.
The Djiboutian statement had some good advice for the Somali government. The most important of them is for Somalia to mediate the disputes between Eritrea and Djibouti. It is a wise gesture that will bring peace to the region and allow Somalia to play a key international role once again. It is time President Farmaajo seriously thought about welcoming the leaders of both Djibouti and Eritrea to Somalia to start peace discussions. After all, Somalia is both of their second homes.