Ethiopia-Somaliland Agreement: A Step Towards Red Sea Access and Political Recognition

somaliland volatile contraversy

Somalia has firmly rejected a recent agreement between its breakaway region, Somaliland, and Ethiopia, concerning the use of the strategic Berbera port on the Red Sea. This deal, signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi, grants Ethiopia a 50-year lease for 20 km around the port for naval and commercial purposes. In return, Ethiopia would recognize Somaliland as an independent state, a first among nations.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia’s gambit for a port is unsettling a volatile region – The Economist

The pact has caused significant tension. Somalia, considering Somaliland as part of its territory, sees this as an infringement on its sovereignty. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia has emphasized that no entity has the authority to relinquish a part of Somali territory, declaring the agreement “null and void” and an act of interference in Somalia’s sovereignty. He reiterated that Somaliland remains a northern region of Somalia, dismissing Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland’s independence as non-existent.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Signs ‘Historic’ Port Agreement with Somaliland for Red Sea Access

Somaliland, which declared autonomy in 1991, has yet to receive broad international recognition. Despite this, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed’s ambition to secure Red Sea access has raised concerns over potential conflicts in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s offer to grant Somaliland a stake in Ethiopian Airlines as part of the port deal adds another layer to this complex situation.

This development follows recent efforts to restart dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland, facilitated by Djibouti. However, Somaliland’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Kahin, has called for an apology from Somalia, rejecting their claim of Somaliland being part of Somalia and upholding the deal with Ethiopia. The situation remains tense, with key Ethiopian officials yet to comment, underscoring the delicate balance of power and territorial integrity in the region.

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