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Ethiopia Secures Path to Sea Access through Agreement with Somaliland


Ethiopia, a landlocked nation with a population of over 120 million, initiated a pivotal move to secure sea access by signing a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland.

This agreement was formalized in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi.

The deal facilitates Ethiopia’s establishment of a marine force base on a 20-km stretch of Somaliland’s coastline.

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Strategic Agreement for Ethiopia and Somaliland

This agreement is not just a strategic maritime maneuver but also significantly bolsters the security, economic, and political alliance between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

A notable aspect of this deal is Ethiopia’s commitment to recognize Somaliland as an independent nation in the foreseeable future, a status Somaliland has been seeking for over 30 years since its secession from Somalia.

However, this self-declared independence remains unrecognized by major international entities like the African Union and the United Nations.

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Somalia’s Reaction to the Deal

Somalia, which maintains its claim over Somaliland, promptly responded to this development. Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, Somalia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, emphasized the nation’s indivisibility and territorial integrity.

Further, the Somali government, through its communication on the social media platform “X” (previously known as Twitter), stated that such a military pact or memorandum of understanding for leasing a port should be within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of Somalia, suggesting the invalidity of the agreement from their perspective.

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Why Sea Access is Crucial for Ethiopia

This development is crucial for Ethiopia, which lost its direct sea access following Eritrea’s secession in 1993. Since then, Ethiopia has primarily relied on Djibouti’s port facilities for its import and export activities.

The recent agreement with Somaliland opens a new chapter in Ethiopia’s quest for maritime access and could reshape regional geopolitical dynamics.

This move comes amid ongoing efforts to strengthen security cooperation and combat organized crime in the region, as evidenced by a recent agreement between Somalia and Somaliland in Djibouti.

In 2018, Ethiopia and Somaliland reached an agreement for Ethiopia to acquire a 19% stake in the port of Berbera, alongside DP World, an Emirati logistics company, which was to hold a 51% share.

However, by 2022, this deal collapsed. According to Somaliland authorities, Ethiopia did not fulfill the necessary conditions to secure its stake within the agreed timeframe.


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