MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Ethiopia’s government has recently begun inviting several Somali regional leaders to Addis Ababa for talks on closer ties in what analysts say is a clear response to the Somali president’s visit to Egypt last month.
The leader of Puntland state Saeed Abdullahi Deni had taken a snake trip to Addis Ababa last month, where he held talks with Ethiopian officials, though their discussions have yet to be disclosed.
Just weeks later, an Ethiopian military aircraft transported the leader of Southwest State Abdiasis Laftagaren, an opponent of the new Somali administration, to Addis Ababa. He is believed to have held talks with senior Ethiopian government officials.
Addis Ababa has also invited the leaders of Hirshabelle State and Galmudug. Several Ethiopian delegations visited all regional states and Somaliland in what Ethiopia said aimed to strengthen cooperation on security and other essential forefronts.
Amid an escalating diplomatic tiff, Ethiopia has not yet talked to the Somali federal government, which is the only entity in Somalia to discuss matters of security cooperation and intelligence-sharing with other states.
Ethiopia was allied with the administration of former Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose fall led to naked interference by Addis Ababa in its neighbor’s internal politics.
This week, thousands of fresh Ethiopian troops with heavy weaponry and military vehicles entered several Somali cities in Gedo region and many more are expected to follow. A Farmajo-era tribal administration that controls much of the region welcomed the Ethiopian incursion.
It is widely believed that Laftagaren and Deni are eager to use Ethiopia’s hand to stifle their opposition and sweep themselves to unchallenged victory in upcoming elections. Southwest state has already begun measures to deny opposition figures permission to visit regional cities.
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