Ethiopia Has Enormous Political and Military Influence In Somalia
It is not clear whether it is a genius design or pure political accident, but the Ethiopian political power and influence is enormous and permeates at the village level in every corner of Somalia. No Somali politician can refuse or resist Ethiopian political pressures. In fact, they will all rush to do whatever Ethiopian political and military leadership demands. This is not necessarily loving and admiration for Ethiopia, but it is the realpolitik in the region and a reflection of how the Ethiopian political and military power reaches all over Somalia.
Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government have an arsenal of political and military instruments that they can utilize in order to coerce the Somalis. Briefly stated, the following are few of the key ones:
· Withdraw the security and political guarantees that Ethiopia implicitly provides to Somaliland government
· Encourage or support the political insurgency in Borama and western party of Somaliland
· Give political support to the opposition and crown Abdirahman Cirro as the main political actor in Somaliland. Cirro was in Addis Ababa recently and met with Pres Muse Bihi there
· Invite the political leaders in Khatumo and give political and material support to them making eastern regions ungovernable
· Allow the federal government to apply more political and security pressures on Somaliland and destabilize the fragile political system
· Isolate Somaliland politically and diplomatically
· Support Ahmed Madobe and the Jubaland state government
· Withdraw the military support to the federal government in Jubbaland and remove Ethiopian forces in Gedo region
· Give political and material support to its proxy; ASWJ in Galmudug
· Arm ASWJ fighters and withdraw Ethiopian forces in Dhusamareeb
· Encourage political opposition in Mogadishu and empower political and financially the key opposition leaders in Mogadishu
· Apply political and security pressures on Farmaajo through AMISOM and AU
· Support Puntland in order to weaken the federal government and Farmaajo presidency
· Withdraw the security protection Ethiopian military provides to South West president
· Remove or reduce Ethiopian military forces (those outside the AMISOM framework) in South West and Hirshabelle
· Encourage and support the opposition (and there are many) in South West
Ethiopia can organize political opposition and military insurgency in any corner of Somalia at will.
The aforementioned political and military instruments are not risk-free for Ethiopia. However, in the short-term, the application of political and military pressure will produce the desired results for Ethiopia.
The federal government, federal member states, and Somaliland need Ethiopian political and security support. They cannot afford to have Ethiopia as an enemy, without Ethiopian support they have serious political and security problems. Their longtime political survival depends on Ethiopia. It is very unfortunate, but it is an inescapable fact in Somalia.