Egypt pledges assist to Somalia, eyeing Horn of Africa affect

CAIRO — Egypt, as a part of its effort to win extra assist from regional nations, hosted Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble this week. He arrived in Cairo on Aug. 16 for the primary time since taking on in September 2020, on the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Roble met a number of Egyptian officers, together with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly on Aug.17, who informed Roble the Egyptian authorities hopes to reinforce financial and commerce ties with Somalia.

Madbouli stated he has directives from Sisi to supply all forms of assist to Somalia.

Roble additionally met Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who expressed hope that Somalia can recover from its political issues and maintain profitable parliamentary and presidential elections. The presidential election is about for Oct. 10, whereas parliamentary elections maintain getting posponed.

Roble’s go to to Cairo got here every week after he met with Egypt’s ambassador to Somalia, Mohamed Nasr.

It additionally got here at a time when is Egypt working exhausting to strengthen its presence within the Horn of Africa, an space Cairo had lengthy uncared for.

This neglect, analysts stated, jeopardized Egypt’s pursuits within the area, together with its rights to Nile River water, now on the middle of a dispute with Ethiopia, which has been constructing the Mustafa Madbouli on the Blue Nile, the primary tributary of the Nile River, which sends Egypt most of its annual water share.

Egypt took a collection of measures prior to now years to strengthen its relations with regional states and develop its affect within the area as a part of an effort to guard Cairo’s pursuits.

“The Horn of Africa is of extreme importance for Egypt with some of its countries, especially those overlooking the Red Sea, suffering unrest and hosting some foreign military bases,” Tarek Fahmi, a political science professor at Cairo University, informed Al-Monitor. “Some regional states are also members of the Nile Basin, which gives the region special importance for Cairo.”

Egypt has been working to domesticate heat relations with the nations of the area, together with with Kenya, additionally locked in a water dispute with Ethiopia.

In April, Shoukry met Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi and handed him a message from Sisi.

Almost a month later, Egypt signed a protection cooperation pact with Kenya.

A short while later, Sisi paid a go to to Djibouti, the primary by an Egyptian president.

Deep beneath these nascent alliances with Horn of Africa states are Egypt’s fears regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, analysts stated.

Egypt had negotiated with Ethiopia and Sudan over the multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam for over a decade, however with no passable outcomes.

Cairo says it desires to safe its Nile water movement by signing a legally binding cope with Addis Ababa over the filling and the operation of the dam.

The United States, the African Union and the UN Security Council have been concerned in makes an attempt to persuade Ethiopia to signal the deal. Nevertheless, none of those gamers succeeded in attaining the Egyptian objective.

Cairo is now making an attempt to get Ethiopia’s prime allies, together with China, to place stress on Addis Ababa to signal the deal.

Some analysts stated Cairo basically turned its again to the continent following an try on the life of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995.

Mubarak had simply landed within the Ethiopian capital to attend an African Union summit when gunmen opened fireplace on his motorcade. He narrowly escaped along with his life, however stopped attending African Union summits till his overthrow in 2011. Mubarak died at 91 in 2020.

“Egypt’s absence from the continent was very costly to it,” Fahmi stated. “This absence gave the chance for Egypt’s rivals to occupy its place at all economic and political levels.”

Sisi has been working to reverse this coverage, having paid an enormous variety of visits to African capitals.  

He can also be bringing curiosity in Africa to the guts of the Egyptian capital, having turned Cairo right into a mecca for Africans by way of numerous commerce and funding gala’s and conferences.

Somalia has been on the middle of this curiosity. The Horn of Africa nation is of particular significance to Egypt, given the impact safety circumstances in it have on navigation within the Red Sea and consequently the Suez Canal, safety analysts stated.

“Security conditions in Somalia are a matter of deep concern for Egypt,” retired Egyptian military Maj. Gen. Nasr Salem informed Al-Monitor. “These conditions have their effect on security in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.”

The Suez Canal is considered by Sisi’s administration as a gift and future nerve middle of the Egyptian financial system.

Egypt is outwardly additionally using tender energy by way of Al-Azhar, the Cairo-based mosque and college that’s seen because the world’s highest seat of Sunni Islamic studying, to attract Somalia into its orbit.

The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, met Roble on Aug.17 and stated Al-Azhar would supply no matter assist wanted by Somalia.

At current, 873 Somali college students are enrolled within the varied faculties of Al-Azhar University.

Al-Azhar additionally sends help and preachers to Somalia to unfold its average model of Islam in it.

The Egyptian prime minister informed Roble that his authorities would take into account elevating scholarships provided Somali college students at Egyptian universities to 400 yearly, as an alternative of 200 at current.

Somalia additionally has specified a plot of land for the development of an Egyptian embassy in Mogadishu. In February, Somalia appointed a brand new envoy to Cairo. Somalia’s earlier ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League, Mohamed Wa’ays, died of COVID-19 in May 2020. 

Still, the highway to raised relations between the 2 nations is much from a straightforward one, Somali analysts stated. Egypt will face intense competitors from regional rivals Qatar and Turkey because it tries to realize a foothold in Somalia.

Qatar and Turkey are investing closely within the Horn of Africa state, together with on the financial and safety ranges. “Both countries have presence in Somalia already, having offered Mogadishu a lot of support in the recent past,” Somali researcher Hudayfi Abdirahman informed Al-Monitor. 

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