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Politicians often make promises that they cannot and may not intend to fulfill in the first place, and this fact is one of the few axioms that everyone knows about the volatile and mysterious world of politics, but the matter was particularly different with the promise made by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed in June. June 2018, less than two months after he officially took office, via a televised speech broadcast live on state television in full view of more than a hundred million Ethiopians, unlike millions of others who carried out the controversial pledge of the new prime minister.

During his aforementioned speech, (1) "Abi Ahmed" was keen to confirm his desire to pursue a peaceful policy towards neighboring countries based mainly on peaceful coexistence and economic integration, sending unprecedented conciliatory invitations to his country's historical opponents, especially in neighboring Eritrea, but he was not forgotten in At the same time, waving the military cane, proudly speaking of his country's success in building one of the strongest African armies at the level of the land and air forces, pledging to start rebuilding the naval capabilities of the Ethiopian army in the near future.

That pledge to build a new Ethiopian navy was particularly exciting and strange, and this was not only due to the fact that building marine capabilities from A to Z requires massive financial investments that his government will not be able to meet at the present time, or even because building a strong navy requires long years of training The technician and the manufacture of competencies with the assistance of a reputable international military force as a necessary condition; But the two real excitement and strange aspects can be traced back to a much simpler truth that "Abi Ahmed", the Ethiopians, and everyone who looks at the map of the African state for a single moment realize: Ethiopia today is a landlocked country that does not have any marine coasts to be exploited or defended by the expected navy at all.

Ethiopian Prime Minister "Abi Ahmed" (Reuters)

At first glance, the prime minister’s pledge could have been seen as an early attempt to consolidate his power by tickling the dreams and feelings of his constituents and recalling the memories of the recent past when Ethiopia had long coastlines on the Red Sea before Eritrea seceded from it in 1993, but the events of the months following his pledge proved that the matter Far from it, the Addis Ababa regime had already embarked on a vigorous attempt to restore access to the sea, and to restore the country's marine fleet, which was formally dissolved in 1996 after three years of Eritrean secession.

Addis Ababa had not waited long after Abe’s pledges, and within a few months she had already begun work, and in March of last year 2019 during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Addis Ababa, which was the first (2) visit of a French president to Ethiopia since the 1970s. The two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement in which Paris pledged to develop the expected Ethiopian navy and train the Ethiopian sailors in France, but the pivotal question about where the expected naval vessels of a landlocked country will be stationed remained unanswered until last December, when the newspaper Capital announced "The Ethiopian less than two months ago announced a preliminary agreement to establish an Ethiopian naval base in the neighboring country of Djibouti.

The agreement was reached, according to the Ethiopian newspaper during a visit by "Abi Ahmed" to Djibouti during the last week of last October, where he met the President of the country, "Ismail Omar Ghayla" and discussed with him the details related to Al Qaeda, so that Ethiopia would become the last of the smallest crowded country With foreign military bases on the face of the earth, in light of France, the United States, China, Japan, and Italy having military bases already there, as well as plans to establish a Saudi base also alongside the Ethiopian.

The announcement of the creation of an Ethiopian naval base in Djibouti is unlikely to end the controversy over the secret of the land-locked state's desire to acquire a strong navy

Addis Ababa has appointed Brigadier "Kindo Gizo" to lead the process of establishing the navy, provided that the headquarters of the forces will be located in the city of "Bahr Dar", the capital of the province of "Amhara" in the Ethiopian north overlooking Lake "Tana" the largest Ethiopian water bodies, and announced the opening of the Navy The Ethiopian temporary office independent of the Ministry of Defense in the facility of the company Metals and Engineering, "Metek" located in the port of Mexico in the capital Addis Ababa.

However, the announcement of the establishment of an Ethiopian naval base in Djibouti is unlikely to end the controversy over the secret of the landlocked state's desire to possess a strong navy, and whether the expected base in Djibouti will be sufficient to meet the country's maritime aspirations, and how these aspirations may affect the dynamics of powers in The region and Addis Ababa's relations with global and regional powers that have interests in the space of the Horn of Africa, starting with the United States, France and China, and passing through 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, which is intensified today by The intense struggle over the waters of the Nile.

The Ethiopian Navy

Throughout most of its history, Ethiopia remained a landlocked country without coasts, with the exception of limited historical periods, when the Portuguese gave it control of the Eritrean "Massawa" port with the aim of cutting off trade coming to Egypt from India, but at the end of the First World War, Britain considered that it was in its interest to provide Ethiopia as a powerful force on the sea, so in 1935 during the Second Italian War in Abyssinia, it tried to conclude a treaty with Fascist Italy, whereby London recognized Rome's control of most of the lands of Abyssinia - unlike the official position of the League of Nations at the time - and granted it a route to the Red Sea through the port of Assab known as the "corridor" Beauty, ”in exchange for Mussolini’s support for Britain and France’s efforts to counter Hitler’s influence in Europe, but the treaty was unsuccessful and quickly fell formal after its secret details were leaked to the British press.

By 1950, and shortly after the end of World War II, the British finally managed to give Ethiopia direct contact with the Red Sea coasts when the United Nations recognized Ethiopia's control of Eritrea, and in 1955 the Ethiopian Imperial Navy was stationed at the Haile Selassie naval base in the port Massawa, and by the early 1960s many factories, workshops, and marine training centers had been set up in Massawa, granting Ethiopia full naval capabilities for the first time in its history.

Emperor Haile Selassie and the establishment of the Ethiopian Navy (communication sites)

With the advent in 1958 the Marine Corps was recognized as an independent service within the army and as one of the three branches of the Ethiopian Armed Forces alongside the Ethiopian Army (Land Forces) and the Air Force, and the Ethiopian Navy was designed and built as a coastal force with the goal of patrolling the Red Sea, but Ethiopian naval officers quickly demonstrated that they Among the most qualified and able to organize in the region thanks to the training they got in the British Royal Navy bases in Eritrea even before its unification with Ethiopia, and thanks to (3) retired British naval experts who worked as supervisors and trainers for Ethiopian sailors, and helped establish the first marine college in the country In Asmara in 1956 with a 52-month study program, unlike the School of Naval Officers established in Massawa in 1958 and the Marine Commando Training School in the same city that was inaugurated in the early 1960s, and other marine training centers in Assab, Asmara and Massawa.

Later, Emperor Haile Selassie I hired the Royal Norwegian Navy officers to help organize the new Ethiopian navy and undertook training tasks alongside retired British officers, in parallel with sending some Ethiopian naval officers to receive maritime education at the Italian Naval Academy in Livorno and the US Naval Academy In Annapolis, Maryland, the United States is estimated to have reached approximately 11,500 personnel, most of whom are conscripts who typically spend seven years serving as volunteers.

Simultaneously, the Ethiopian Navy began a journey to collect warships from its Western sponsors, and it succeeded in 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 had succeeded in annexing its largest unit ever, a ship US services USS Orca capable of carrying amphibious aircraft, which Ethiopia used as a training ship and remained the largest ship operated by the Ethiopian Navy during 31 years of service.

At the same time, the Ethiopian Navy began establishing four military bases, and 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 Assab port contained a marine station and a ship repair dock and some Training facilities, the Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea hosted the main communications center in addition to a marine station.

The first Emperor Haile Selassie enlisted the Royal Norwegian Navy officers to help organize the new Ethiopian Navy and take over training tasks alongside retired British officers (communication sites)

However, the structure, work force and strength of the Ethiopian Navy witnessed major changes in the wake of the army's overthrow of Emperor Selassie in a 1974 military coup and inauguration of the Communist-led military government led by the Communists (1974-1977) and later during the rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam (1977-1991) As this period witnessed a major reorientation of Ethiopian policy towards the Soviet Union, and the navy was not far from it, as the training paths of officers from the United States, Britain, and Italy were redirected to the Soviet Naval Academy in Leningrad and the Naval Academy in Baku, Azerbaijan, and in return, the Soviets supported Addis Ababa during the 1978 Ogaden war in Somalia, which prompted the Somalis to expel the Soviets from their bases in the Somali port of Berbera, so Addis Ababa opened its doors wide to Moscow, which established naval bases in Assab and Dahlak islands, and established an air base for Soviet air at Asmara airport, as well as taking over Soviet naval personnel most of the leadership positions at the Ethiopian Maritime Academy and their work as advisers to the Ethiopian Sea Corps.

This shift necessarily meant that the Ethiopian navy moved to become a Soviet-style equipped force, and although Addis Ababa continued to hold American and Western ships, led by the USS Orca, the United States ceased selling arms to Ethiopia officially in 1977, to start patrol boats and boats Soviet missiles infiltrated 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, most of them of Soviet origin.

The USS Ethiopian Navy USS Orca ship (communication sites)

Nevertheless, it is clear that the strength of the Ethiopian navy diminished significantly during the socialist era compared to the time of the empire, with most of the army's resources being directed to the land and air forces during the Ogaden War and reducing the number of the navy that settled at only 3,500, and this happened in conjunction with the outbreak of the rebellion The Popular Front for the Liberation of Eritrea against the Communist Rule in Addis Ababa, and as Ethiopia's relationship with Eritrea revolves mainly around reaching the sea, the Eritrean rebels - who have fought a long three-decade war for independence - have engineered a highly effective plan for an irregular maritime war against the Ethiopian navy to cut Maritime access to Addis Ababa is a plan in which rebels have used primitive civilian speed boats and supplied them with anti-aircraft guns that they captured while fighting against the Ethiopian army and used them to intercept and support limited raids on the beach.

By February 1990 the National Liberation Front of Eritrea had succeeded in controlling the port of Massawa, before later controlling the port of Assab, which led to the isolation of the Ethiopian army and the imposition of Eritrea's de facto independence in 1991, leaving Ethiopia again without coasts, though Addis Ababa struggled to keep its navy in operation after it transported most of the items to Yemen's ports, but Sanaa expelled Ethiopian ships in 1993, so Addis Ababa was forced to dispose of some of its ships and transfer others to Djibouti.

Ethiopia then made unremitting efforts to maintain its fleet and obtain a permanent naval presence in Djibouti, or even in Assab, where it requested independent Eritrea to rent a berth in the Assab port to operate ships, or establish a joint sea weapon between the two countries and divide ship management, but Eritrea refused the request and expressed It wanted to establish its own sea weapon, and by 1996 Djibouti was also exhausted from hosting Ethiopian ships in its ports, especially after Addis Ababa failed to pay the dues of those ports, which led Djibouti to seize the Ethiopian ships and put them up for sale in a public auction where he was sold Some of them are already Eritrea, to find that Addis Ababa is finally forced to announce the dissolution of its navy command and transport the remaining patrol boats to Lake Tana, writing the death certificate of the Ethiopian Sea after only four decades of its establishment.

Confined Ethiopia

With Eritrea officially gained independence in 1992 and the Ethiopian naval fleet dissolved four years later, Addis Ababa lost its final arrival to the sea, and matters got worse with the outbreak of civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998, to become the ports of Assab and Massawa completely closed to Ethiopian shipping, which made The country is forced to rely entirely on its small neighbor Djibouti for trade, as 95% of Ethiopia’s exports and imports pass through the port of the country, which seems to have come at a very high price. The Economist magazine indicated that the cost of shipping one container from Djibouti to Addis Ababa is equivalent to the cost of The container itself is shipped from China to Djibouti.

This problem has become clearer and more influential thanks to (5) the significant population growth - the population of Ethiopia today exceeds 105 million - and the rapid growth of its 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 amounting to Today, 11 ships consist of periodic trips to the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and the Black Sea. This fleet is managed by the state-owned Ethiopian Navigation Company (ESLSE), and although this fleet remains limited compared to the fleets of the major shipping companies, the country has maintained it for reasons of national pride and as a constant reminder With her ambition to restore access to the sea.

However, the manifestations of Ethiopia's maritime ambitions did not stop at the borders of merchant ships, as the country established in the last decade a school for seafarers in the city of Bahr Dar on Lake Tana where the sources of the Blue Nile are located, and developed ambitious plans to train more than 5,000 sailors and ship engineers over a decade Wage employment for navies in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and while the government believed that these sailors could send nearly $ 250 million in hard currency to their country, the experiences they could obtain were invaluable for a landlocked country.

 Djibouti port (the island)

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 the main outlet for the world through a $ 3 billion railway, which began construction in 2011 with Chinese funding and is 759 km long, along with the establishment of a series of Dry ports inside the Ethiopian lands 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 Ghayla's controversial policy to take advantage of his country's strategic location to lease the military bases of foreign countries, which has caused a growing The Ethiopian regime fears that Djibouti may not have a say in its future self-determination.

Therefore, Ethiopian officials have sought for many years to find another way to do business other than Djibouti, and they have found the opportunity in conjunction with the intense wave of Middle Eastern forces in search of influence in the Horn of Africa, a flow that has been particularly strengthened since the war launched by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council states in Yemen since The first quarter of 2015, which was accompanied by feverish Gulf-Turkish rivalry, to integrate the Horn of Africa into the fabric of the new Middle East and redraw the strategic geopolitics of the region.

Although Addis Ababa's foreign policy towards the Arabs remained conservative (7) historically for fear that the country would be encircled by competing Arab powers, foremost of which is Egypt, the changing dynamics created by the fierce competition between the countries of the Middle East over the Horn of Africa gave Ethiopia an invaluable opportunity to maneuver, as It sought to take advantage of the involvement of the various Arab Gulf states in the region to circumvent its marine isolation and reduce its dependence on the port of Djibouti, and it did so in the first place by trying to arouse the interest of its potential Arab partners in renewing and developing other ports in the region, such as Port Sudan in Sudan, and Mombasa in Kenya.

Somaliland, a de facto independent state from Somalia since 1991 but not recognized internationally (Al-Jazeera)

But Addis Ababa’s greatest success (8) in this regard took place in Berbera Port in Somaliland, a de facto independent country from Somalia since 1991 but not internationally recognized, as Ethiopia succeeded in raising the appetites of wealthy princes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to invest in the marginalized port What has gained surprising strategic importance for the Emirates, 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 to financing to raise the level of the port.

In the end, Ethiopia obtained the desired result. In May 2016, Dubai Ports World signed an agreement to operate and develop the port of Berbera for a period of 30 years, and Ethiopia later guaranteed its presence in the port through a special deal with Dubai Ports in March 2018, in which it was granted a share. It reached 19% in it, to place Ethiopia as the first block on its long road to restore access to the sea, unlike achieving many other strategic goals, chief among which is to link the eastern Somali region ethnically in the first place with Addis Ababa by investing $ 80 million in a 500-mile route linking The port is between the Ethiopian border city of Tugochal, providing an additional outlet for trade and export of agricultural products and attracting more Gulf investments in these sectors.

Other than that, the Berbera Port Agreement served a package of far-reaching regional goals for Addis Ababa, chief among which was preserving Eritrea's isolation and weakening it in the long term, perhaps with the goal of eventually annexing it or transforming it into a dependent state at the very least, and devoting the current status of fragmented Somalia after the civil war through Breaking the glass ceiling of international recognition of these territories by integrating them into international trade partnerships, as well as giving Addis Ababa an excuse to interfere in the affairs of these regions by using a mixture of financial and political pressure.

The doctrine of "Abi Ahmed"

From Abi Ahmed’s point of view, the burning conflicts with the neighbors devoured the country's financial and military resources and prevented them from taking a leadership role in their regional environment.

In light of this volatile geopolitical environment, Ethiopia witnessed a sudden political transition in April 2018, following the rise of the young Prime Minister "Abi Ahmed" belonging to the Oromo Nationality carrying an ambitious political agenda at the heart of which restored maritime access to his country, but in contrast to his predecessors saw "Abe "Ethiopia will not be able to achieve this goal as long as it remains involved in political and border conflicts with most of its neighbors, including Somalia and Eritrea, as well as the civil war in neighboring South Sudan that casts a heavy shadow over Addis Ababa in the form of huge legions of immigrants.

From Abe’s point of view, these inflammatory conflicts with neighbors devoured the country’s financial and military resources and prevented them from taking a leadership role in their regional environment, so the new government sought to restore the regional initiative by ending its problems with its neighbors and clearing these historical conflicts. June 2018, when Ethiopia announced that it would finally comply with Algeria's agreement signed in 2000 to end the long-term war with Eritrea without any preconditions, an agreement that Addis Ababa has for nearly two decades failed to implement its decisions, including the handing over of the border town of Badme to Eritrea. And since that announcement, the two countries exchanged diplomatic visits, before they signed an agreement to end the war with Gulf sponsorship, according to which the ambassadors were exchanged for the first time since Eritrea's secession in the 1990s.

On the less complicated Somali front, given the outbreak of fighting between the two countries at least five times since the early twentieth century, Addis Ababa pursued more friendly policies towards its neighbor based on economic integration and enhanced security cooperation, as Ethiopian forces strengthened their presence in counter-terrorism missions in Somalia In addition, in June last year, Ethiopia announced 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 build security along the Ethiopian border. Somali.

In southern Sudan, Addis Ababa played a decisive role in reaching a ceasefire in a civil war that started since 2013 and contributed to the flow of refugees and casualties across the border, before Ethiopia intervened last year 2019 to facilitate the mediation of a political agreement to share power between the military and civilians in Sudan. Following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April of the same year.

From the viewpoint of many observers, the unprecedented conciliatory policies of Addis Ababa were the new path that the country chose to pursue in order to achieve its old goal of affirming its regional hegemony by restoring access to the sea. Therefore, Addis Ababa's political efforts have always been accompanied by attempts to gain maritime access to the ports of its neighbors. Contrary to the previously mentioned Berbera Port Agreement, "Abi Ahmed" sought during the first weeks of his assumption of power to obtain a legalized access to the port of Djouralia in Djibouti after he entered into negotiations with the neighboring country to jointly develop and operate the port, and negotiations included the possibility of Addis Ababa obtaining a stake in the port In exchange for Djibouti obtaining shares in Ethiopian state-owned companies under the partial privatization plan for Addis Ababa.

As part of its relentless and developed effort to devour the ports, Addis Ababa is over, and in May 2018, the two countries reached an agreement whereby Ethiopia acquired a share of land on Lamu Island as part of the Lamu Port (Lamu Port) project in southern Sudan - Ethiopia for transport, which is known Acronym in the name of "Labsett", a $ 24 billion transportation and infrastructure project signed in 2012, but was postponed due to delays in funding and security problems in both countries, and later came the peace agreement with Eritrea, which Addis Ababa is looking to gain a foothold in the ports of Assab and Massawa Finally, Ethiopia's active mediation came 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 driven by the desire to develop the economy more than the ambitions of regional hegemony had it not coincided with that controversial pledge of "Abi Ahmed" to build a new navy for his country, although the prospect of the Ethiopian navy could help In protecting Ethiopian merchant ships in a volatile marine environment, the security and strategic concerns and motives of geopolitics remain the biggest incentive behind the ambitious project that has already come into effect with the Ethiopian base that was recently agreed with Djibouti, and the candidate is to expand by establishing other bases in the ports that Ethiopia seeks to infiltrate it in Eritrea, Kenya, Somaliland and Sudan.

Great conflict

There are many strategic imperatives that explain Addis Ababa's relentless pursuit to restore its naval reach and acquire a new navy. At first, Ethiopia realizes that all of its neighbors in the Horn of Africa possess large coasts but lack the ability to exploit it, while Addis Ababa lacks coasts but has capabilities and resources that are not available to its neighbors, and this situation gives Ethiopia many advantages (10), while it has the necessary resources to allocate it to build A marine weapon, it can guarantee an important opinion on the table in the formulation of regional maritime goals, and with its expected navy playing a role in protecting the freight movement of neighboring countries, it can assert regional control and present itself as a guarantor of stability for its partners.

The maritime aspirations of Ethiopia cannot be separated in any way from the great conflict that the country is engaging with Egypt and Sudan over the shares of the Nile waters.

With the Ethiopian navy present in more than one country - as planned - it will be able to provide military cover for its ambitious project of regional integration, as well as enhance its credentials as a major partner for the United States in the region, and a potential American policeman in it, which will give it a lot of space to show its influence and besiege The ambition of its competing powers like Uganda and Kenya, in addition to having the ability to maintain its national security by dropping its 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 the Strait of Bab al-Mandab .

But the maritime aspirations of Ethiopia cannot be separated in any way from the great conflict that the country is engaging with Egypt and Sudan over the shares of the Nile waters, a conflict that has intensified significantly in recent years due to plans for Ethiopia to construct the "Great Renaissance" Dam as it is called, a giant dam at a cost of 6 billion A dollar aims to turn Ethiopia into a regional center for electric power, but it will significantly affect Egypt's historical share in the waters of the Nile, and it appears that the Ethiopian project has also pushed Cairo to throw its weight in the Horn of Africa politically, and perhaps militarily. In April 2017 - almost a year ago Who took power "Abi Ahmed" - Press reports issued by Eritrean authorities 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 Noura district, the second largest island The Dahlak Archipelago, on an area of ​​105 square kilometers, provided that the base that will become the first for Egypt outside its borders host between 20 and 30,000 Egyptian soldiers, including about 3,000 Egyptian naval personnel.

Simultaneously, Somali press sources indicated that Egypt was entering negotiations with the republics of Somalia and Djibouti to build an Egyptian military base, and although none of these alleged efforts have been successful in the past two years, it is likely that Addis Ababa was - and still is - concerned about any Military activity in Egypt in its backyard, especially with the possibility that Cairo may use any presence in the Horn of Africa to protect its water rights by targeting the Renaissance Dam.

These concerns about Egypt’s movements in the Horn of Africa were always present in the minds of Ethiopian officials, and it was likely that they were also embodied in waving "Abi Ahmed" his country's willingness to mobilize millions of Ethiopians to protect the Renaissance Dam as described, and behind it Addis Ababa's rapid movement to secure a base on the entrance The Red Sea in Djibouti, a move that provoked an immediate reaction from Cairo to contain it. On December 4, and just two days after the news of the Ethiopian base, the Egyptian President with military background Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi telephoned his Djiboutian counterpart Ismail Omar Ghaylh in order to What was officially called "discussing security issues in Africa", before Cairo dispatched a military transport plane loaded with humanitarian aid to Djibouti during the same week to help the country cope with the effects of the recent floods.

Although no official statement was issued by the Egyptian government to comment on Ethiopia's move to establish a military base at the entrance to the Red Sea, it is likely that Egypt is anxiously watching the Ethiopian moves not only for reasons related to the file of the Renaissance Dam and the waters of the Nile, but also because Cairo will not be happy to have a force A historically competing military base that controls the southern gate of the Suez Canal, although Cairo still sees the Ethiopian move as a mere political maneuver from the Ethiopian side, aiming to send a message to her about the extent of Ethiopia's ability to confront the Egyptian capital and its willingness to it, but Cairo does not see that message as evidence On an actual desire to engage in a direct direct confrontation against it.

Egypt is aware of the facts that Ethiopia is most likely to realize, foremost 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 overnight, and if this fact applies to efforts to establish a single military base, it applies more to Addis Ababa's ambitious plan to create a complete navy with several military bases outside the border is ultimately likely to go ahead with this plan, a long and costly process, especially if Ethiopia is serious about building a fleet with advanced naval capabilities and not just mobilizing a handful of patrol boats.

As unrest escalates within the different regions, Addis Ababa will find itself obliged to direct more military resources and manpower to maintain internal order.

In other words, there are many difficulties awaiting Ethiopia's efforts to re-establish its naval forces, although it ran relatively sophisticated naval forces in the early nineties, and despite having a good number of trained seafarers working in East Asian countries, it certainly would need to spend some time To train officers and technicians, establish administrative and military structures, bring in consultants, open schools and training 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 installations.

Otherwise, it is likely that Ethiopia's internal challenges will place more restrictions on its new naval plans. With the escalation of unrest within the various regions, Addis Ababa will find itself obliged to direct more military resources and manpower to maintain internal order, especially during the run-up to the elections scheduled for May. This coming May and the period immediately following it, is expected to press these developments on the country's more ambitious projects such as the development of the navy.

The biggest question that Ethiopia will have to answer remains the best way to negotiate its marine dreams with its neighbors, in particular both Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea. Although Addis Ababa has reached a tentative agreement to establish a base in Djibouti already, the small country already hosts a large number of rules The foreign military apparently does not object to hosting more of them, including the possibility of hosting an Egyptian base if necessary, as well as the possibility of it being subjected to pressure from some major powers to limit Ethiopia's activity, which could create a long-term strategic dilemma for Addis Ababa.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed (Reuters)

Likewise, Ethiopia's path to imposing a military presence in Somalia does not seem furnished with flowers. Despite the improvement of relations between the two countries in recent months, the presence of Ethiopia in Berbera without the permission of the central government in Somalia is likely to reflect the path of this relative improvement in relations, even if the Somali government authorized Addis Ababa, by establishing a military base on its soil, will face great logistical difficulties in light of the lack of transportation routes paved in Somalia and the threat posed by the Somali youth movement.

On the Eritrean front, the matter is no less complicated for the Ethiopians. Despite the fragile peace agreement that the two countries recently reached, it is unlikely that Asmara will be willing to give its long-term opponent a military presence on its territory, and any pressure in this direction can threaten the fragile peace agreement between the two countries. And, as a result, the most likely Ethiopian likely course of action is to pursue negotiations on all these fronts and avoid placing all their eggs in one basket so that it can direct its ambitious marine plans even if its relations with one of the candidate countries collapses.

So it is clear that Addis Ababa realizes that its maritime ambitions exceed its capabilities today as an emerging regional power that finds that it must defy the obstacles of geography, history and the geopolitical complexities, and that it may take years and perhaps decades to achieve a very large goal such as creating a full naval force, if this goal is to be achieved Basically, however, the Ethiopians realize that the mere waving of this matter and seeking it is consistent with the aspirations of the country to assert its regional authority in a region that suffers from competition and a leadership vacuum, a vacuum that seems to be Addis Ababa and “Abi Ahmed” looking to fill it today as Ethiopia did before. Decades, even if only by long-term planning and exciting diplomatic statements, even when.