Western countries take sides in Kenya’s maritime row with Somalia
A dispute over maritime territory in the Indian Ocean between Kenya and Somalia has resulted in major western countries lining up on either side, depending on which of the two African nations best serves their oil interests.
The disputed territory is 100 000 square kilometres with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been on a steep decline since early 2019, when Kenya accused Somalia of putting Kenya’s blocks up for auction during the February Somalia Oil and Gas conference in London.
Somalia refuted Kenya’s claims. But during the oil and gas conference, it had submitted bidding rules and procedures and also displayed a map of oil and gas blocks which it intended to auction in future.
Following the London oil conference, Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia and asked the Somali ambassador in Kenya to “depart for consultations.”
Meanwhile, Somalia has a case against Kenya at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In 2014, Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ and asked the court to order a redrawing of the sea boundary in Somalia’s favour.
The hearings were scheduled to start on September 3, 2019 but Kenya successfully petitioned the court to adjourn the case until June 2020.
But this diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia is only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface are positions and interests that are being pushed by players far afield including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Norway.
Countries like Kenya and Somalia are increasing importance given that some of the largest and most recent oil finds have been in Africa. This could very well continue.READ MORE