US Envoy Hammer’s Ethiopia visit sparks social media storm

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Somaliland President Muse Bihi and Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Photo credit: Pool

 A recent visit by a top US envoy to Ethiopia appears to have sparked a fresh maritime row with neighbouring Somalia.

Mike Hammer, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, recently toured Addis Ababa and was quoted by local media, including the African Herald Journal, commending Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi for his “diplomatic strategy.”

The comments, shared by among others, Somaliland’s Trade and Tourism Director-General Abdirashid Aibrahim on X (formerly Twitter), has since been flagged as “fake in sections of social media.

Critics also pointed out that the image was likely edited by International Moose Count Underway’ a website known for generating fake news headlines.

“This guy actually believes this article is real. Who is going to tell him it's bogus?” one user posed.

Another one added: “Fake news. So desperate.”

Further, the Herald quoted Hammer urging Somaliland and Djibouti “to consider constructive engagement rather than confrontation” in the search for economic success.

“The outcome of Hammer’s discussions will likely influence US policy and aid distribution in the region,” explained a source.

Somaliland has consistently maintained its breakaway and freedom from Somalia, causing a diplomatic rift between the two nations.

The relationship escalated at the start of 2024 when Somaliland and Ethiopia announced a deal for the landlocked Addis Ababa to access the Red Sea Port of Berbera, an agreement Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed’s administration maintains is illegal.

Amid reports of diplomatic talks between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in Nairobi when President Ruto met Mohamud and Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Nairobi in February 2024, Mogadishu “has maintained its intent to defend its territorial integrity”

“Ethiopia is evading responsibility for its diplomatic mistakes and violating international norms,” warned Mohamud.

“We respect Somalia’s sovereignty,” Abiy responded.

“Access to the sea is essential for Ethiopia’s growing economy and population. The MOU we signed with Somalia came after all the neighbouring countries including the Somali government rejected our requests. In fact, the Somali government refused to engage in dialogue with us.”

According to the US State Department, Hammer met the African Union, Ethiopian officials, and the Interim Regional Administration of Tigray to discuss the implementation of the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.