BBC (Horn Services) reported that President Mohamoud visited Somali soldiers who have been receiving training in Eritrea for the last three years.
The Somali President who flew in to Asmara last Saturday (9 July 2022) for a four day state visit, paid a visit to the thousands of Somali armed forces who, according to experts, were secretly deployed to Eritrea during the start of the Tigray conflict.
It is to be remembered that the Ethiopian Federal Government spearheaded the invasion of Tigray in Nov 2020. Eritrea joined the invasion to support its Ethiopian ally; and subsequently, brought in thousands of Somali soldiers to assist in the war effort.
ERI-TV, Eritrea’s government media, is currently reporting President Mohamoud’s visit. Last night ERI-TV reported for the first time the existence of thousands of Somali soldiers in Eritrea.
It reported both President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and his Somali counterpart visited the Somali military camp in Eritrea, labelling the visit as ‘graduation of the Somali forces that have been receiving training in Eritrea for the last three years’.
In the report, the President Mahamoud is heard congratulating his forces for completing the training after the military parade. It was also reported the graduates will work to ascertain a strong and united Somalia.
When the civil war in the north erupted, the TPLF leadership publicised the fact that Somali forces were engaged in the conflict alongside Eritrea during the incursion. The Eritrean and Somali governments have been rebuffing the accusation as untrue all along.
[Last year in June, the UN special rapporteur Mohamed Babiker discussed the presence of Somali troops in Tigray – an issue that added another dimension to the continuing conflict and growing humanitarian crisis.]
Last May, President Mohamed Abdulahi Formaggio, the former Somali president, disclosed the fact that 5000 Somali soldiers were sent to Eritrea for training during the transition ceremony. He also mentioned that ‘due to unruly circumstances that emerged in the region’ the soldiers did not return to Somalia.
It was reported that the head of Somalia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs last year asked Mohamed Formaggio to investigate complaints that some of the nation’s troops went missing while fighting in Ethiopia, and many of them may have died in clashes there.
During the last couple of years many Somali parents have been raising the issue regarding the whereabouts of their children.
On 5 Sep 2018, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, formed a tripartite front to combat problems in the region.
The Tripartite Agreement, formally titled the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation Between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, states that given their “close ties of geography, history, culture and religion as well as vital common interests” and “respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity”, the three countries agree to cooperate and “build close political, economic, social, cultural and security ties”, coordinate to “promote regional peace and security” and establish a Joint High-Level Committee to coordinate the implementation. The agreement was signed in Asmara on 5 September 2018 by Abiy Ahmed, prime minister of Ethiopia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmaajo), president of Somalia, and Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea.
The ERI TV report left many questions unanswered. No mention was made of the actual nature of the ‘three year-long’ military training, why the Somali and Eritrean and Ethiopian governments kept the ‘training’ as secret until recently, the much reported (on international media) ‘role of the Somali soldiers in the Tigray conflict’.