By John Ikani
Ethiopia and Somaliland’s military leaders have engaged in discussions on potential military cooperation amidst increasing concerns surrounding a recent agreement that could grant Ethiopia a naval base along the Gulf of Aden.
The signed deal on January 1st allows Ethiopia both commercial and military access to the sea, prompting Somalia to denounce it as an act of aggression.
Somalia asserts Somaliland as part of its territory and has pledged to safeguard its sovereignty.
The meeting between Ethiopia’s Field Marshal Birhanu Jula and Somaliland’s Maj Gen Nuh Ismael Tani in Addis Ababa focused on exploring ways to collaborate, though no specific details were disclosed.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on January 1st outlines Somaliland’s agreement to lease a portion of its coast to Ethiopia for a naval base.
Despite Somaliland’s claim that Ethiopia would eventually recognize its independence in return, Ethiopia remains non-committal and emphasizes the need for a thorough evaluation before taking a position on Somaliland’s quest for recognition.
Somalia views the MoU as a direct threat to its territorial integrity, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urging citizens to prepare for the defense of the nation.
The African Union and the US have intervened to ease tensions, while Somalia’s allies, including Egypt and Turkey, have pledged their support.”
While military discussions unfolded in Addis Ababa, President Mohamud of Somalia engaged in talks with Eritrea’s counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, in Asmara.
Although official statements did not explicitly reference Ethiopia’s deal with Somaliland, it is likely that the issue was addressed.
Eritrea announced the leaders’ commitment to working together with patience and a constructive spirit, refraining from reacting to various provocative agendas.
President Mohamud’s office later indicated that the discussions between the two leaders in Eritrea would encompass mutually beneficial issues.