The Ethiopian-Somaliland deal concerning the Red Sea has drawn global condemnation, with the United States, IGAD, and the African Union (AU) accusing Addis Ababa of breaching the territorial integrity of a neighbouring state.

The AU, amidst escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, has called for mutual respect and appealed for calm.

On Wednesday, the United States rejected international recognition for the separatist region and stressed the need for talks to address the crisis.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “The United States recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders. We join other partners in expressing our serious concern about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa.”

The deal MoU, which is aimed at giving Addis access to the Red Sea, was finalised on Monday and is set to be formalised within a month, according to the two countries.

Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud swiftly condemned the move, labeling it as “illegal” and accusing Ethiopia of encroaching on Somalia’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Somalia, vehemently opposing the agreement as an “aggression” and a “blatant assault” on its sovereignty, has vowed to defend its territory.

AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a statement urging “calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension” between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Mr Faki called for prompt negotiation to settle their differences, highlighting the importance of refraining from actions that could inadvertently strain the good relations between the neighboring Eastern African countries.

Mr Faki stressed the need to respect all AU member states’ unity, territorial integrity, and full sovereignty.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate with approximately 4.5 million people, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, a move not internationally recognised and fiercely opposed by Mogadishu.