NAIROBI, Kenya—The United Nations Supreme Court is largely sidelined with Somalia over Kenya on Tuesday in a fight over how to a disputed delineation area in the Indian Ocean thought it was rich in oil and gas, an important decision die can escalate tensions in the region and finally reshape the two countries’ sea borders.
The ruling of the International Court of Justice of justice in The Hague on Tuesday was the end of a long-delayed case die strained neighborly relations countries in the strategically vital Horn of Africa. While the court handed over most of the disputed territory to Somalia, the also shifted part of the border north a little, in line with Kenya’s demand.
Even before the court made a ruling, Kenya withdrew from the case and said it would not recognize any ruling. The court’s rulings are binding but not enforceable, and many others countries have chosen to ignore them.
But this dispute, experts say, threatens to inject another bill of insecurity in An region already hampered by terrorism, internal conflict and widespread instability.
Here’s a look at why the Somali-Kenya feud is important and what its political, security and economic ramifications could be for the wider region.
why is this patch of ocean so important for Somalia and Kenya?
In two words: natural resources. The disputed offshore area, die covers approximately 62,000 square miles, is believed to have massive deposits of oil and gas die An big boost for the economy of any country controls the.
The area is also rich in fish, and a shift in the sea borders can mean the loss of livelihood for some fishing communities, met name die in Lamu District, on the north coast, said Meron Elias, a Horn of Africa researcher with the International Crisis Group. There are at least two fish landing sites within the disputed area and Kenyan fishermen there have repeatedly protested and called on regional authorities to intervene.
Lamu County is also a popular tourist destination and is home to an American military base, as well as a new, Chinese-built deep water port die aims to connect the landlocked economies of East Africa such as die of Ethiopia and South Sudan, to global trade routes.
the disagreement over the relatively narrow triangle in the Indian Ocean reflects the unease that has defined the two countriesrelationship since independence. For Kenyans, the Somali claims are part of what she call their neighbor’s “resurgent expansionist agenda””, a reference to a secessionist conflict from the 1960s by ethnic Somalis in Kenya who populate the northeastern districts along the border with Somalia.
The dispute has served as political fodder for leaders in both countries.
For Somalia, which has joined a heated election period, the international court ruling can give a political impulse for President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is looking for a second term in office and has fueled nationalist sentiment over the maritime dispute.
Kenya, which has deployed troops in Somalia as part of African Union peacekeepers, often complains that their contributions to stabilizing its neighbor — by thwarting the threat of Al Shabab, a branch of Al Qaeda, and by taking in Somali refugees, are not appreciated.
Why can’t you do both? countries agree on who controls the area?
The main source of twist for has been to both Kenya and Somalia how the sea border should extend from the land border.
Somalia wanted its sea area delineated by a line die: runs southeast of his land border, and the court largely allowed it. Kenya wanted die line to run East- in a straight line parallel to the equator.
For years the two countries tried the issue through diplomatic negotiations. When that failed, Somalia, in August 2014, filed a case with the UN court to determine the maritime boundary.
In 2017, the court rejected Kenya’s Argument It Wasn’t Competent, But It took four more year for it on begin hearings on the case.
In March, just for the first public hearings were at begin, Kenya withdrew from the proceedings, saying it’s legal team not had enough time to prepare. It also objected to the presence on the legal panel of a judge, Abdulqawi Yusuf, a Somali citizen who had served as president of the court until February.
Is the court ruling? final, and enforceable?
Article 94 of the UN charter states that the Member States should meet with the courts decisions, and that every party should appeal to the Security Council as the other party fails in to perform his obligations.
In this case, the court rejected Kenya’s argument that it had an existing border agreement with Somalia and that adjusting the maritime border would pose a serious security problem of the livelihood in would endanger of fishing communities. But the court also rejected Somalia’s claims that Kenya was violating international law and turned down his request for compensation.
While the court rulings are: final and without profession it has no way of enforce them. Last week, Kenya said it would not be bound by a ruling, following the path of other countriesincluding the United States and China, die have ignored decisions of the court.
Although the situation may remain tense, unlikely to escalate to a full conflict, said Timothy Walker, the maritime project leader at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.
With a weak federal government and a nascent maritime authority: “Somalia is not yet a country that can necessarily enforce its laws” of international laws at sea,” said Mr Walker.
Where do the two come? countries go from here?
The court’s decision adds to a long list of challenges already testing relations between Kenya and Somalia.
Kenya, for its part, has deported Somali lawmakers and one point, direct flights from Somalia to Nairobi suspended.
Somalia also terminated visas on arrival for Kenyan burgers and banned the import of Kenyan khat, a mildly stimulating leaf that provides millions of dollars in Kenya’s economy.
to enlighten future tensions, experts say the two countries join the African Union of other regional authorities to try a way forward, said Abdimalik Abdullahi, an independent researcher in Mogadishu.
“This can be done,” he said, “by establishing technical committees die to be able to iron out other outstanding issues, the leaders maintain contact and channels of communication, and avoiding one-sided military activities in die waters.”
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