In a press conference in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti announced his country’s intention to establish military bases on the Red Sea, noting that “different countries are interested in controlling the Red Sea region by establishing more military bases than ever before.” This announcement raises a lot of controversy, in light of what everyone knows about the fact that Ethiopia is a landlocked country that does not have any outlets to the sea, which means that its awaited naval bases will be built outside its borders.
However, this is not the first time that Addis Ababa has made this kind of sensational pledge. Less than two months after he came to power, in June 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to build a navy for his captive country, and although this announcement seemed at first glance to be propaganda, during the following months, Addis Ababa took actual steps to restore its influence. However, these efforts quickly entered an era of stagnation due to the government’s involvement in a number of conflicts, foremost of which is the bloody conflict in the Tigray region, not to mention the border skirmishes with Sudan, which raised questions about the extent of Addis Ababa’s ability to achieve its ambitions to restore maritime access in any time soon.
Politicians often make promises they cannot keep, and may not even intend to keep them. This fact is one of the few truisms that everyone knows about the volatile and ambiguous world of politics, but it was different, especially with that promise made by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in June June 2018, less than two months after he officially took office, through a televised speech broadcast live on state television in full view of more than one hundred million Ethiopians, in addition to millions of others who conveyed the controversial pledge to the new prime minister.
During his aforementioned speech, Abi Ahmed was keen to confirm his desire to adopt a peaceful policy towards neighboring countries based primarily on peaceful coexistence and economic integration, directing unprecedented conciliatory calls to his country’s historical opponents, especially in neighboring Eritrea, but at the same time Abi Ahmed did not forget to wave On the stick, he spoke proudly of his country’s success in building one of the strongest armies in Africa at the level of land and air forces, and pledging to start rebuilding the naval capabilities of the Ethiopian army in the near future.
Abiy Ahmed’s conciliatory tendencies proved to be a mirage. Nearly two years after taking office, the Nobel Prize-winning prime minister waged a bloody war in Tigray and was embroiled in a border dispute with Sudan, but Abiy Ahmed’s pledge to build a new navy for his country remained particularly exciting. This is not only due to the fact that building naval capabilities from the ground up requires huge financial investments that his government will not be able to meet at the present time, or even to the fact that building a strong naval force may require many years of technical training and skill-building with the help of a reputable international military force. , but the real excitement can be traced back to a much simpler fact, a fact that Abi Ahmed and all the Ethiopians and everyone who looks at the map of Ethiopia for one moment realize, which is simply that Addis Ababa today is a landlocked country that does not have any sea coasts to be exploited or defended by the waiting navy .
At first glance, the prime minister’s pledge could have been seen as an attempt to consolidate his power by tickling the dreams and feelings of his voters and recalling memories of the recent past when Ethiopia had long coasts on the Red Sea before the secession of Eritrea in 1993, but the events of the subsequent months proved that the matter goes beyond That, and that the country has already embarked on a vigorous attempt to restore access to the sea, and to rebuild its naval fleet, which was officially dissolved in 1996, after three years of Eritrean secession.
Addis Ababa did not wait long after Abiy’s pledges, and within a few months it had already started working, and in March 2019, during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Addis Ababa, which was the first visit of a French president to the country since the 1970s, France and Ethiopia signed a cooperation agreement Defensive, during which Paris pledged to develop the awaited Ethiopian navy and train Ethiopian sailors in France, but the central question about where the naval pieces awaited for the landlocked state will be stationed remained unanswered until December 2019, when the Ethiopian Capital newspaper announced a preliminary agreement to establish an Ethiopian naval base in the neighboring country of Djibouti.
According to the Ethiopian newspaper, the agreement was reached during a visit by Abi Ahmed to Djibouti in October of the same year, where he met with the country’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and discussed with him the details related to the base, thus making Ethiopia the last to join the small country most crowded with bases. Foreign military forces on the face of the earth, with France, the United States, China, Japan and Italy already having military bases in Djibouti, not to mention the existence of plans (often frozen) to establish a Saudi base in the country as well.
According to the information circulated, Addis Ababa has already appointed Brigadier General Kendo Gezo to lead the process of establishing the navy, with the headquarters of the forces stationed in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia, overlooking Lake Tana, which is the largest body of water in Ethiopian territory. The Ethiopian Navy has announced the opening of a temporary office independent of the Ministry of Defense at the Metallurgical and Engineering Company (METEC) facility located in the port of Mexico in the capital, Addis Ababa.
But the announcement of the establishment of a naval base for Ethiopia in Djibouti is unlikely to end the controversy over the secret of the landlocked country’s desire to possess a strong navy, and whether the expected base in Djibouti will be sufficient to meet the country’s naval ambitions, and how these ambitions might affect the dynamics of forces in The region and Addis Ababa’s relations with global and regional powers with interests in the Horn of Africa, starting with the United States, France and China, passing through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and ending with Egypt, which has its own concerns about the Ethiopian maritime expansion in light of the historical competition between the two countries that is intensifying today due to The raging conflict over the Nile waters and the file of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
For most of its history, Ethiopia was a landlocked country without coasts, except for limited historical periods when the Portuguese granted it at the beginning of the sixteenth century control of the Eritrean port of Massawa in order to cut off trade coming to Egypt from India, but with the end of the First World War Britain saw that it was in its interest Presenting Ethiopia as a powerful power on the sea, so it tried in 1935, during the second Italian-Abyssinian war, to conclude a treaty with Fascist Italy under which Britain would recognize Italy’s control over most of Abyssinia’s territory – unlike the official position of the League of Nations at the time – and give it a route to the Red Sea via The port of Assab was known as the “Camel Passage”, in exchange for Mussolini’s support for Britain and France’s efforts to counter Hitler’s influence in Europe, but the treaty failed and soon officially fell after its secret details were revealed to the British press.
By 1950, shortly after the end of World War II, the British were finally able to give Ethiopia a direct connection to the Red Sea coast when the United Nations recognized Ethiopia’s control over Eritrea, and in 1955 the Ethiopian Imperial Navy was established, which was stationed at the Haile Selassie Naval Base in the port of Massawa, By the early 1960s, many factories, workshops, and naval training centers had been set up in the port, giving the country near-total naval capabilities for the first time in its history.
With the advent of 1958, the Navy was recognized as an independent service within the army and one of the three branches of the Ethiopian Armed Forces alongside the Ethiopian Army (Land Forces) and the Ethiopian Air Force, and the Ethiopian Navy was designed and built as a coastal force intended to patrol the Red Sea. Their competence thanks to the training they had at the British Royal Navy bases in Eritrea even before its unification with Ethiopia, and thanks to the retired British Navy experts who served as supervisors and trainers for Ethiopian sailors and helped establish the country’s first naval college in Asmara in 1956, with a study program extending to 52 months, apart from the Naval Officers School that was established in Massawa in 1958 and the Naval Commandos Training School in the same city that was inaugurated in the early 1960s, and other naval training centers in Assab, Asmara and Massawa.
Later, Emperor Haile Selassie I hired officers of the Royal Norwegian Navy to help organize the new Ethiopian Navy and take over training tasks alongside retired British officers, in parallel with sening some Ethiopian Navy officers to receive naval education at the Italian Naval Academy in Livorno and the American Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, USA At its peak, the Ethiopian navy was estimated to have had about 11,500 personnel, most of whom were conscripts who usually spent seven years of service as volunteers.
In conjunction with that, the Ethiopian Navy began a journey to collect war pieces from its Western sponsors, and succeeded within a short period in collecting a mixture of patrol boats, torpedo boats and small submersible boats from the United States and European countries, and by 1963 the Ethiopian Navy succeeded in including its largest units ever, which is The USS Orca, an amphibious-capable US service ship, was used by Ethiopia as a training ship and was the largest ship operated by the Ethiopian Navy in 31 years of service.
At the same time, the Ethiopian Navy proceeded to establish four military bases. While Massawa hosted the headquarters of the Navy and the main training facilities, the headquarters of the Naval Air Force Station and the Naval Academy were hosted in Asmara, while the port of Assab contained a naval station, a ship repair dock and some Training facilities, and the Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea hosted the main communications center in addition to a marine station.
However, the structure of the Ethiopian Navy, its system of operation, and its power witnessed major changes in the wake of the army’s overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in a military coup in 1974 and the installation of the Derg military government led by the communists (1974-1977), and later during the rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam (1977-1991). This period witnessed a major reorientation of Ethiopian policy towards the Soviet Union, and the Navy was not far from that, as the paths of training officers from the United States, Britain and Italy were redirected to the Soviet Naval Academy in Leningrad and the Academy in the Navy in Baku, Azerbaijan, and in return, the Soviets supported Addis Ababa during the Ogaden War in Somalia in 1978, which prompted the Somalis to expel the Soviets from their bases in the Somali port of Berbera. Addis Ababa opened its doors wide to Moscow, which established naval bases in Assab and Dahlak Islands, and established an air base for Soviet aviation at Asmara Airport, not to mention taking over Soviet Navy personnel mostLeadership positions in the Ethiopian Naval Academy and their work as advisors to the Ethiopian Navy.
This transformation necessarily meant the transition of the Ethiopian Navy to become a Soviet-style equipped force, and although Addis Ababa continued to retain American and Western ships, led by the USS Orca, the United States stopped selling weapons to Ethiopia officially in 1977, Patrol boats and Soviet missile boats began to infiltrate the Ethiopian fleet, and by 1991 the Ethiopian Navy had two frigates, eight missile boats, six patrol boats, two amphibious ships, and two support ships, mostly of Soviet origin.
Despite this, it was clear that the power of the Ethiopian navy declined during the communist era compared to the times of the empire, with most of the army’s resources directed to the land and air forces during the Ogaden War and the reduction of the number of the navy, which settled at only 3,500 personnel, and this happened in conjunction with the outbreak of The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) rebelled against communist rule in Addis Ababa, and since Ethiopia’s relationship with Eritrea revolves primarily around access to the sea, the Eritrean rebels, who fought a three-decade long war for independence, designed a highly effective plan for irregular naval warfare against the Ethiopian navy. To cut off sea access to Addis Ababa, a plan in which the rebels employed primitive civilian high-speed boats and armed them with anti-aircraft guns, which they had captured during their fight against the Ethiopian army and used for interception and support for limited incursions ashore.
By February 1990, the Eritrean National Liberation Front had succeeded in controlling the port of Massawa, before later taking control of the port of Assab, which led to the isolation of the Ethiopian army and the imposition of the de facto independence of Eritrea in 1991, leaving Ethiopia again shoreless. From this, Addis Ababa struggled to keep its navy in operation after transporting most of the pieces to the ports of Yemen, but Sanaa expelled the Ethiopian ships in 1993, forcing Addis Ababa to get rid of some of its ships and transfer others to Djibouti.
During that time, Ethiopia again made great efforts to maintain its fleet and obtain a permanent naval presence in Djibouti, or even in Assab, as it asked independent Eritrea to rent a berth in the port of Assab to operate the ships, or establish a joint sea force between the two countries and divide the management of ships, but Eritrea refused the request and expressed its desire to establish its own navy, and by 1996, Djibouti was also tired of hosting Ethiopian ships in its ports, especially after Addis Ababa failed to pay port dues, which prompted Djibouti to seize the Ethiopian ships and put them for sale in Auctioned as some have already been sold to Eritrea, Addis Ababa is finally forced to announce the dissolution of its navy and move the remaining patrol boats to Lake Tana, writing the death certificate for the Ethiopian Navy just four decades after its founding.
With Eritrea officially gaining its independence in 1992, and the Ethiopian naval fleet disbanding four years later, Addis Ababa lost its access to the sea permanently, and things got worse with the outbreak of the civil war between Addis Ababa and Asmara in 1998, becoming the ports of Assab and Massawa completely closed to Ethiopian shipping. , which has made the country completely dependent on its small neighbor Djibouti for trade, as 95 percent of Ethiopia’s exports and imports pass through the country’s port, a dependence that appears to come at a high price, and as The Economist notes , the cost of shipping one container from Djibouti To Addis Ababa the cost of shipping the same container from China to Djibouti.
This problem has become more visible and influential thanks to the country’s large population growth – Ethiopia’s population today exceeds 105 million – the rapid growth of the Ethiopian economy, and the growing need for safe and inexpensive shipping methods, and as a result Addis Ababa has been keen to maintain a limited fleet of merchant ships Today, with a strength of 11 ships that make periodic voyages to the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and the Black Sea, this fleet is managed by the state-owned Ethiopian Shipping Company (ESLSE), and although this fleet remains limited compared to the fleets of major shipping companies, the country has maintained it for reasons of pride. National and as a permanent reminder of its ambition to restore access to the sea.
But the manifestations of Ethiopia’s maritime ambitions did not stop at the borders of merchant ships, as the country established early last decade a school for sailors in the city of Bahir Dar on Lake Tana near the headwaters of the Blue Nile, and developed ambitious plans to train more than 5,000 sailors and ship engineers over more than a decade with the aim of employing them pay for the navies of Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and while the government believed these seamen could send some $250 million in hard currency home, the expertise they could gain was invaluable to a landlocked country.
At the same time, Addis Ababa focused its efforts on a more realistic plan that relied on increasing connectivity with the port of Djibouti, which is its main outlet to the world, through a railway, at a cost of three billion dollars, which began to be established in 2011 with Chinese financing and a length of 759 km, along with Establishing a series of dry ports within the Ethiopian territory to reduce the cost of storage and customs, but Addis Ababa has never felt comfortable with its absolute dependence on Djibouti, especially with President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s controversial policy to take advantage of his country’s strategic location to rent military bases to foreign countries, which caused Addis Ababa fears growing that Djibouti may not have a say in its future self-determination.
As a result, Ethiopian officials have sought for many years to find another outlet for doing business other than Djibouti, and they have found an opportunity to do so, apparently in conjunction with the intense influx of Middle Eastern powers in search of influence in the Horn of Africa, a flow that has been strengthened, especially since the war launched by Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries. Gulf cooperation in Yemen since the first quarter of 2015, which was accompanied by a feverish Gulf-Turkish competition to integrate the Horn of Africa into the fabric of the new Middle East, and to redraw the strategic geopolitics of the region.
Although Addis Ababa’s foreign policy toward the Arabs has historically remained conservative, fearing that the country would be surrounded by rival Arab powers, led by Egypt, the changing dynamics created by the frantic competition between Middle Eastern countries around the Horn of Africa gave Ethiopia an invaluable opportunity to maneuver, as it sought The country is taking advantage of the involvement of various Arab Gulf states in the region to circumvent its maritime isolation and reduce its dependence on the port of Djibouti, and it has done so primarily by trying to arouse the interest of its potential Arab partners in the renewal and development of other ports in the region, such as Port Sudan in Sudan, and Mombasa in Kenya.
But Addis Ababa’s greatest success in this regard occurred in the port of Berbera in Somaliland, a country that has been de facto independent of Somalia since 1991 and does not enjoy international recognition. For Abu Dhabi not only because of the repercussions of the Yemen war, but also because of Ethiopia’s guarantees to direct part of its trade and contribute funding to upgrade the port.
In the end, Ethiopia got the result it craved. In May 2016, DP World signed an agreement to operate and develop the port of Berbera for a period of 30 years. Subsequently, Ethiopia secured its presence in the port through a special deal with DP World in March 2018 under which it was awarded Ethiopia has a 19% stake in the port, thus placing Addis Ababa the first building block on its long way to restore access to the sea, in addition to achieving many other strategic goals, foremost of which is linking the eastern region of Ethiopia, primarily ethnically Somali, with Addis Ababa through an investment of $80 million. On a 500-mile road linking the port with the Ethiopian border city of Togoshal, providing an additional outlet for trade and exporting agricultural products and attracting more Gulf investments in these sectors.
In contrast, the Berbera port agreement served a set of long-term regional goals for Addis Ababa, foremost of which is maintaining and weakening Eritrea in the long term, perhaps with the aim of eventually annexing it again or turning it into a vassal state at the very least, and consolidating the status quo of a fragmented Somalia after the civil war. By breaking the glass ceiling of international recognition of these territories by integrating them into international trade partnerships, not to mention giving Addis Ababa an excuse to interfere in the affairs of these territories using a combination of financial and political pressures.
In this volatile geopolitical atmosphere, Ethiopia witnessed a sudden political transition in April 2018 following the rise of the young Oromo Prime Minister Abi Ahmed with an ambitious political agenda at the heart of which is restoring maritime access to his country. At first, Abi Ahmed saw – Or so he promoted his vision – that Ethiopia would not be able to achieve this goal as long as it was embroiled in political and border conflicts with most of its neighbors including Somalia and Eritrea, not to mention the civil war in neighboring South Sudan that cast a heavy shadow over Addis Ababa in the form of huge hordes of immigrants.
During the first months of its rule, the Ethiopian government sought to regain the regional initiative by ending its problems with its neighbors and apparently settling these historical conflicts, beginning in June 2018, when Ethiopia announced that it would finally comply with the Algiers Agreement signed in 2000 to end the long-running war with Eritrea Without any previous conditions, an agreement that, for nearly two decades, “Addis Ababa” refrained from implementing its decisions, including the handover of the border town of “Badme” to Eritrea, and since that announcement, the countries exchanged diplomatic visits, before they signed an agreement to end the war under Gulf auspices in which ambassadors were exchanged For the first time since the secession of Eritrea in the nineties.
On the no less complex Somali front, given that fighting has erupted between the two countries at least five times since the early twentieth century, Addis Ababa has pursued more friendly policies toward its neighbor centered around economic integration and enhanced security cooperation, as Ethiopian forces have strengthened their presence in counter-terrorism missions in Somalia In addition, Ethiopia announced in June 2019 that it would begin its first crude oil production tests in the Ogaden region, on the border with Somalia, with plans to build a pipeline to export hydrocarbons from the region, a project that would help restore security along the border. Somali Ethiopian.
As for South Sudan, Addis Ababa played a crucial role in reaching a ceasefire agreement in a civil war that began since 2013, and contributed to the flow of refugees and injured people across the border, before Ethiopia intervened in 2019 to facilitate a political agreement to share power between the military and civilians in Sudan following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
In the view of many observers at the time, Addis Ababa’s new conciliatory policies were the new path the country chose to take to achieve its old goal of asserting its regional hegemony by restoring access to the sea, so Addis Ababa’s political efforts were always accompanied by attempts to gain maritime access to Its neighbours’ ports, in contrast to the aforementioned Berbera port agreement, Abiy Ahmed sought, during the first weeks of his assumption of power, to obtain regulated access to the port of Diraleh in Djibouti, after he entered into negotiations with the neighboring country to develop the port and operate it jointly. The negotiations included the possibility of Addis Ababa obtaining a share in The port in exchange for Djibouti’s acquisition of shares in Ethiopian state-owned companies as part of Addis Ababa’s partial privatization plan.
As part of its ongoing pursuit and newly created to devour ports, gone Addis Ababa face splitting Kenya, and in May / May 2018, two countries have reached an agreement obtained under which Ethiopia ‘s share of land in the “Lamu” island as part of the Lamu Port project (Lamu) port, southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport, known simply as “Lapset”, a $24 billion transport and infrastructure project signed in 2012, but delayed due to funding delays and security problems in both countries, and later a peace agreement with Eritrea, under which Addis Ababa is looking to obtain A foothold in the ports of Assab and Massawa, and finally Ethiopia’s active mediation in the Sudanese file, which cannot be separated from the country’s ambitions to obtain a share in the country’s ports, especially Port Sudan.
On the surface, all of these moves could have been seen as motivated more by a desire to grow the economy than ambitions for regional hegemony, had they not come along with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s controversial pledge to build a new navy for his country. Awaiting can help protect Ethiopian merchant ships in a volatile maritime environment, security and strategic concerns and geopolitical motives remain the biggest motivator behind the ambitious project that has already come into effect with the Ethiopian base recently agreed with Djibouti, and is likely to expand through the establishment of bases Others are in ports that Ethiopia seeks to penetrate in Eritrea, Kenya, Somaliland and Sudan.
But Ethiopia’s conciliatory policy did not seem to last long. After two years of his rule, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began to get involved in a number of controversial wars and conflicts, on top of which was the bloody war in the Tigray region, not to mention border skirmishes with Sudan and mutual threats of war. These coercive policies have undermined his popularity and sowed more uncertainty about the main significance of Ethiopia’s moves in the region, and although this distrust is likely to make the country’s moves to restore its maritime influence more difficult, it is unlikely that Addis Ababa will back down from its ambitions, as it bets – It appears that they can eventually contain the side effects of their coercive policies.
In this context, there are many strategic imperatives that explain Addis Ababa’s relentless pursuit to regain its maritime access and acquire a new navy. Ababa is on the coast, but it has capabilities and resources that are not available to its neighbors, and this situation gives Ethiopia many advantages . With the resources necessary to allocate them to build a navy, it can guarantee itself an important say on the table in formulating regional maritime goals, and with its expected navy playing a role in protecting shipping traffic. For neighboring countries, they can assert their territorial control and present themselves as a guarantor of stability for their partners.
Otherwise, with the presence of the Ethiopian Navy in more than one country – as it seems planned – it will be able to provide military cover for its ambitious project of regional integration, not to mention strengthening its credentials as a major partner of the United States in the region, and a potential American policeman in it, which will give it A large space to highlight its influence and besiege the ambitions of rival powers such as Uganda and Kenya, in addition to having the ability to maintain its national security by projecting power outside its borders, and presenting itself as a party to the regional equation for maritime security in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, by participating in its forces in securing The southern entrance to the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait.
But Ethiopia’s maritime ambitions cannot be separated in any way from the great conflict in which the country is engaged with Egypt and Sudan over the shares of the Nile waters and the file of the Renaissance Dam, which also prompted Cairo to throw its weight in the Horn of Africa politically, and perhaps militarily, in April 2017 – about a year ago. Who took power – Eritrean press reports claimed that the Egyptian government entered into negotiations with Asmara to build an Egyptian military base in the country, while Ethiopian sources claimed that the Eritrean government gave Egypt the green light to build the base in Nora County, the second largest island of the Dahlak archipelago. , on an area estimated at 105 square kilometers, provided that the base, which will become the first for Egypt outside its borders, will host between 20 to 30 thousand Egyptian soldiers, including about 3000 members of the Egyptian navy.
Simultaneously, Somali press sources indicated that Egypt entered into negotiations with the Republics of Somalia and Djibouti to build an Egyptian military base, and although none of these efforts has been officially disclosed yet, it is likely that Addis Ababa was – and still is – concerned about any military activity. Egypt is in its backyard, especially with the possibility that Cairo will use any presence in the Horn of Africa to protect its water rights by targeting the Renaissance Dam.
These concerns about Egypt’s moves in the Horn of Africa were always present in the minds of Ethiopian officials, and it is likely that they were also embodied in the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s hint of his country’s readiness to mobilize millions for war to protect the Renaissance Dam, as he described it, and behind it Addis Ababa’s rapid move to secure a base at the entrance to the sea Al-Ahmar in Djibouti, a move that provoked an immediate reaction from Cairo to contain it, on the 4th of last December, and although Egypt did not issue any official statement to comment on the Addis Ababa moves, it is likely that it is watching with concern these moves not only for reasons related to the file The Renaissance Dam and the waters of the Nile, but also because Cairo would not be happy to have a rival force historically have a military base that controls the southern gate of the Suez Canal, although it sees the Ethiopian moves as a mere maneuver A policy on the part of Addis Ababa whose goal is to send a message to Cairo about the extent of its ability and readiness for confrontation, and not evidence of a desire to engage in a direct confrontation against Egypt.
Egypt is aware of the facts that Ethiopia seems aware of, on top of which is that building an effective naval base is something that requires major investments and a long time to do, and that it will not happen between day and night, and if this fact applies to efforts to establish a single military base, it is more applicable Regarding Addis Ababa’s ambitious plan to create an entire navy with several military bases outside the border, after all, moving forward with this plan is likely to be a long and costly process , especially if Ethiopia is serious about building a fleet with advanced naval capabilities and not just mustering a handful of patrol boats.
In other words, there are a lot of difficulties awaiting Ethiopia’s efforts to re-establish its navy. Although the country was running a relatively advanced navy in the early nineties, and despite having a good number of trained sailors working in East Asian countries, it certainly is. You will need some time to train officers and technicians, create administrative and military structures, bring in experts and advisors, open training schools and academies, as well as the huge amount of money and political arrangements required to purchase and maintain ships and boats, acquire appropriate weapons, and build and operate military bases and facilities.
Otherwise, it is likely that the internal challenges facing the country will put more constraints on its new naval plans. With the escalation of unrest within the different regions, Addis Ababa will find itself compelled to direct more resources and manpower to the military to maintain internal order, as has already happened in Tigray, Not to mention the potential for things to explode on the country’s various border fronts, all of which are likely to put pressure on the country’s more ambitious projects such as developing the navy.
The biggest question that Ethiopia will have to answer is how best to negotiate its maritime dreams with its neighbours, and in particular with Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea. It already hosts a large number of foreign military bases, and it seems that it does not mind hosting more of them, including the possibility of hosting an Egyptian base if necessary, as well as the possibility of it being subject to pressure from some major powers to curb Ethiopia’s activity, which may create a long-term strategic dilemma. for Addis Ababa.
Similarly, Ethiopia’s path to imposing a military presence in Somalia does not seem paved with roses. Although relations between the two countries have relatively improved during the past two years, Ethiopia’s presence in Berbera without the permission of the central government in Somalia is likely to reflect the course of this relative improvement in relations, and even if The Somali government has authorized Addis Ababa to establish a military base on its territory. This base will face great logistical difficulties in light of the lack of paved transportation routes in Somalia and the danger posed by the Somali youth movement.
On the Eritrean front, the matter appears to be no less complicated for Ethiopia. Despite the fragile peace agreement that currently binds the two countries, it is unlikely that Asmara will be willing to grant its long-standing adversary a military presence on its soil, and any pressure in this direction could threaten the peace agreement. As a result, Ethiopia’s likely course of action is to pursue negotiations on all these fronts and avoid putting all of its eggs in one basket so that it can embark on its ambitious naval plans even if its relations with one of the candidate countries collapse.
In light of all this, it is clear that Addis Ababa realizes that its maritime ambitions exceed its capabilities as an emerging regional power that finds that today it has to challenge the obstacles of geography, history experiences and geopolitical complexities, and that it may take years and perhaps decades to achieve – if it is destined to be achieved at all. , but merely waving this matter and seeking it is in line with the country’s aspirations to assert its regional authority in a region suffering from overcrowding in competition and a leadership vacuum that Addis Ababa seems to aspire to fill today, as it did previously decades ago.