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International tensions: Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Ethiopia’s agreement with Somaliland, a separatist republic not recognized by the international community, regarding the use of the port in Berbera in the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the Gulf of Aden, is intended to guarantee Ethiopians access to the sea and international trade. Ethiopia would also like to lease land from Somaliland to build a naval base. Somaliland separated from Somalia in 1991. Somalia invalidated the agreement and emphasized that further steps by Ethiopia and Somaliland would be illegal.

The Bab al-Mandab Strait is a shipping chokepoint leading to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, and several countries have deployed naval forces there to protect their commercial interests. More than 10% of global economic trade passes through the strait, and if Ethiopia gains access, the existing balance of power could be disrupted.

According to the Taliban authorities, Afghan security forces have killed several dozen Tajik citizens and 20 Pakistanis over the last 12 months and arrested dozens of other people involved in attacks on clerics, society and mosques in Afghanistan. According to the Taliban, in 2023, the number of attacks by IS against Afghan targets has decreased by 90%. The militant group has carried out major attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques and has targeted Shiite areas across the country. Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan escalated last fall when hundreds of thousands of Afghans left Pakistan after the government began persecuting foreigners who were said to be there illegally.

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