In the Horn of Africa, the recent Taiwanese presidential election has become a focal point for a renewed diplomatic standoff between Somalia and Somaliland. Tensions have escalated over the past fifteen days following the signing of an agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia, granting Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea in exchange for recognizing the government in Hargeisa. The intricacies of Taiwan’s election are rekindling alliances in the region.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent state since 1991, expressed support for Taiwan’s newly elected president, stating, “Somaliland supports your quest for prosperity, freedom, and democracy.” Conversely, Somalia, quickly joined by Eritrea, reaffirms in a statement its steadfast support for the policy of a unified China. Somalia and China maintain relations within the context of the “Belt and Road” initiative.
The strategic significance of Somalia as an entry point to the Red Sea before navigating the Suez Canal has heightened its importance for Beijing. “China recognizes the need for this interface to successfully execute its digital ‘Belt and Road’ projects,” explains Mathis Laurier of the School of Economic Warfare. Somaliland and Taiwan find themselves connected by a shared destiny as self-proclaimed republics.
In the present scenario, Taiwan stands as the primary economic partner for Somaliland across various sectors, including oil exploration. This diplomatic axis may have seemed inconspicuous in the past, but amid escalating tensions between Ethiopia and its Horn of Africa neighbors, coupled with the expanding Yemeni conflict in the Red Sea, it takes on a newfound significance. The Horn of Africa is witnessing a geopolitical chess game where regional powers are aligning themselves based on their alliances and interests, with the outcome poised to have lasting implications on the broader diplomatic landscape.