Ethiopia and Somaliland Military Chiefs Discuss Cooperation Amid Naval Base Controversy

The military leaders of Ethiopia, a landlocked country, and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland have engaged in talks regarding potential military cooperation. This dialogue emerges amid growing concerns over a recent agreement that grants Ethiopia access to a naval base on the Gulf of Aden, a move criticized by Somalia as an act of aggression.

The agreement, signed on January 1, allows Ethiopia commercial and military access to the sea through Somaliland. Somalia views Somaliland as part of its territory and has expressed determination to safeguard its sovereignty. Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared its secession from Somalia in 1991 but lacks international recognition as an independent state.

Ethiopia’s Field Marshal Birhanu Jula and Somaliland’s Maj Gen Nuh Ismael Tani discussed potential collaboration at a meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday, as reported by Ethiopia’s military in a statement. No specific details about the discussions were provided.

The January Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland involves leasing a portion of Somaliland’s coast to Ethiopia for a naval base. Somaliland has suggested that, in return, Ethiopia may recognize its independence in the future. However, Ethiopia has not confirmed this and instead mentioned conducting a comprehensive assessment regarding Somaliland’s efforts to gain recognition.

Somalia perceives the MoU as a threat to its territorial integrity, prompting its President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to call for preparation in defense of the country. The African Union and the US have intervened to ease tensions, while Somalia’s allies, including Egypt and Turkey, have pledged support.

Simultaneously, as military representatives from Ethiopia and Somaliland held talks in Addis Ababa, President Mohamud met with Eritrea’s leader, Isaias Afwerki, in Asmara. Although official statements did not directly reference Ethiopia’s deal with Somaliland, it is likely that the issue was discussed. Eritrea stated that the leaders agreed to collaborate with patience and a constructive spirit while refraining from reactive responses to various provocative agendas. President Mohamud’s office noted that the two leaders would discuss mutually beneficial issues.

Quest: Emmanuel kelvin

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