Diplomatic Relations between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Middle East
o Ethiopia shares a long history of cultural, religious and people to people relations with the Middle East countries. It is to be noted that Ethiopia was the first country to provide sanctuary and hospitality to the followers of Prophet Mohammed in the First Hijra (pilgrimage), which could be seen as the best illustration of the long standing historical ties between Ethiopia and the Arab World. Christian religion, remained to be largely practiced in Ethiopia for years, which originated in the Middle East and an ancient version of the Jewish religion was also practiced in Ethiopia.
o Due to geographic proximity, historical, cultural, trade, people to people and religious attachments, millions of Ethiopians reside in the Middle East. Some go there for religious purposes and others seeking job opportunities. They are among sources of remittances for their country. Protection of their rights and dignity has become priority agenda for the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in its relations with most of the Middle East countries.
o The geo-politics of the Middle East is strongly linked to the Horn of Africa sub-region where Ethiopia is located and the region currently has attracted major international players to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to ensure their national interests. The establishment of military base of the great powers and the emerging powers in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea areas make the situation more complex and demands Ethiopia’s interaction and strong cooperation with all the Middle East countries to ensure its national interest.
o The Middle East influence in the area, the hydro politics, the Security interest and power in the Horn of Africa calls for Ethiopia’s high level attention.
o Crisis in the area, piracy, religious extremism and terrorism, human trafficking, illegal movement of small arms and money laundering as well as the recent developments in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden need cooperation and coordination of efforts of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East countries.
o As a result of these historical, cultural, security and the growing economic factors Ethiopia opened embassies and consulates in countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Israel, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen and Lebanon. It is also working towards opening new missions in other countries in near future. The Middle East countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran, Jordan and Palestine on their parts have also opened embassies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
o Generally, Ethiopia has a long-standing friendly relationship with countries of the Middle East in terms of language, history, culture, religion and business and so would like to further strengthen the existing relations and also widen its missions. That is why the Middle East is one of the regions that deserve special attention in Ethiopia’s foreign relations and national security policy.