The war of the waters: What is in it for Somalia and what role should it take?

Ethiopia and Egypt are in loggerhead over the Nile. What role should Somalia take?

Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1992-1996) once had a quote on the current political analysts and recent water disputes around the world.

Boutros-Ghali said “the third world war will be water-based.” He added that he predicts that by 2030 there will be a global war over water (fresh water and seas).

Looking at the dispute between Boutros’ homeland of Egypt and Ethiopia, from the year 2011 when Ethiopia began construction of the dam, we can say that there are signs of conflict regarding water!

If the dam is built, as Ethiopia intends, 70% of Egypt’s population will be left empty-handed. And on the Nile, Egypt’s political leadership calls it (MASALAT HAYAT Aw-MOWT) which means (their life depends, death or life).

In an interview with former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, he said 67% of Ethiopians live without electricity while 98% of the Egyptian population uses hydroelectric power from the great dam “AL-SAD AL-ALI” (1960-1968) under the rule of General Jamal Abdi Nasir.

These two perspectives on the two sides could lead to the outbreak of a war over water interests. The Republic of Turkey, meanwhile, is embroiled in a maritime dispute with Greece and Egypt.

Turkey has one of its 7th largest bases in the world in Somalia. Now that Turkey is exploring Libya, it is a golden opportunity for Turkey to set foot in the White Sea (AL-BAXAR AL-ABYAD AL-MUTAWASID) and put it back to Turkish rule since it first had control during the leadership of the Ottoman Caliphate: Sultan Suleiman Al-Qanuuni (1522-1566).

Turkey and Ethiopia share a common vision: the watershed states have the right to make water decisions, with Turkey having two rivers (Al-Dijla and Al-Euphrates), and Ethiopia with the Blue Nile. Egypt, on the other hand, bears the impression that water is controlled by the countries to which it flows; reinforcing their arguments on the treaties signed by the British colonial powers with the Nile Basin countries in the years (1891,1925,1929,1959) all of which gave Egypt a fair share.

Can water war affect Somalis?

A Kuwaiti Professor called Fahad Al-Shuleymi said that Somalia has now the capability ”forces to reclaim Socotra island” and continuing ”which is rightfully theirs” added Senior army in Kuwait and who is now in retirement and heads a research Centre working on security and peace.

The UAE’s agreement with Israel is based on its control of the Red Sea. In 1993, when Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia, Israel welcomed it; The reason was Eritrea became the only non-Arab country in the Red Sea, and Israel’s strategy was centered on water, with its flag emblazoned the star of David symbolizing their Jewish religion and other symbols such as MIN AL-NILI TO AL-FURAAT, which is the territory that Israel intends to occupy between the Nile River in Egypt and the Euphrates River in Iraq and Syria.

At the end of July 2020 at a meeting of the JFS Council of Ministers approved an agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Arab counterparts in the Red Sea, an agreement that – in my opinion – should be considered; because we should not be serving the interests of others we do not know.

Somaliland is projected to be a place where Israel and its interests can be served, and Somaliland officials have been persuaded that it can be cut off from the rest of Somalia! It is a dream dreamed of by separatists, and The Jerusalem Post wrote a commentary entitled: “Israel and Somaliland long lost Brothers.” By referring to Israel and Somaliland as divided brothers, it could be an example of Somaliland’s intention to become another country like Eritrea in the Red Sea!

Neighboring Ethiopia has recently been involved in building a navy, it is a closed landlocked country; However, building a naval force, while the JFS does not yet have a strong naval force, will require that we, as Somalis, consider this and prepare for the defense of Somali waters, at a time when there is a maritime dispute with us and Kenya.


In order to prepare for this war, I would like to offer some advice and guidance on Somali waters;

A. The Federal Government of Somalia

  1. To build a fully equipped army required all the troops in terms of knowledge and military equipment.
  2. Establish a national water research center that provides advice to the central government and member states (states).
  3. Provide maritime experts, and look for Masters degree and Ph.D.
  4. Develop a national plan for water policy.

B. National Universities (Research Centers)

  1. Unfortunately, there is no university in Somalia that has a college of marine science, and universities need to add that specialization.
  2. Universities to open water research centers and produce water-related research;
  3. That the universities of the country establish close relations with their international counterparts and cooperate in the field of water; For example, in Sudan, I saw a campus next to Al-Nilein University (the Nile Research Center) which is a good idea for the country’s universities to draw inspiration from.

As I conclude, it seems to me that dangers is looming towards Somali waters and unfortunately my people are not aware of this, and I hope to be a signal that can provoke feelings and desires without relaying on foreigners.

Dr. Abdifatah Nur Ahmed (Ashkir) – Puntland State Minister of Information, you can contact him at Email:

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