Somaliland And Ethiopia Set To Finalize A Groundbreaking Agreement In Approximately 2 Months- FM Dr Essa

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In recent developments, officials from the Republic of Somaliland and the Ethiopian government are on the brink of finalizing a groundbreaking agreement that could reshape the geopolitical landscape of the region.

The possibility of Ethiopia establishing a naval base along Somaliland’s coastline and potentially recognizing Somaliland’s sovereignty has captured the attention of international observers and stakeholders alike.

A New Chapter in Regional Cooperation

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland is groundbreaking because it provides Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, with a unique opportunity to break free from its geographical constraints, which could have serious consequences for its future.

The MoU also presents Somaliland with a chance to gain recognition as a fully independent state from a major regional and continental power. The economic potential for both nations is described as immense, with the belief that everyone involved stands to benefit.

The success of this agreement relies heavily on the dedication of the Ethiopian government and its ability to make decisions independently in alignment with its core economic and political interests, free from external pressures.

The journey towards this potential agreement began four months ago with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi. Since then, negotiations have been in full swing, with technical committees diligently working towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Essa Kayd, told Deutsche Welle that the agreement on the lease of the Ethiopian naval base to Somaliland is expected to be signed in about two months. The minister stated that three alternative locations have been identified for Ethiopia to lease a naval base.

Somaliland officials, opposition political party leaders, and diplomats are expecting the “partnership and cooperation memorandum of understanding” signed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Muse Bihi Abdi to be implemented in the coming months.

When the MoU was signed four months ago on January 01, 2024, the Ethiopian government announced at the time that the negotiations would be completed within one month. Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Essa Kayd, told Deutsche Welle that after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, discussions have been held and technical committees have been appointed.

“Things have been moving well,” Dr. Essa Kayd told Deutsche Welle, although the process has slowed down during the fasting month of Ramadan.

“Everything depends on when the two groups meet to negotiate the agreement,” said Dr. Essa. I think it will be completed in the coming months, maybe in about two months,” he told Deutsche Welle.

Chapters Unfolding

  1. Naval Base Agreement

Central to the discussions is the prospect of Ethiopia leasing a portion of Somaliland’s extensive 850-kilometer coastline to establish a naval base. While three potential areas have been earmarked for this purpose, the specifics are yet to be disclosed pending further deliberations.

“There are certain areas that we have identified. After we meet with our Ethiopian counterparts, one will be chosen,” said the Somaliland Foreign Minister, refusing to name the three locations.

The establishment of a naval base holds significant strategic implications for both countries and could pave the way for enhanced security cooperation and maritime activities in the region.

Somaliland’s finance minister, Dr. Saad Ali Shire, said Berbera port “will be open for use by all parties, including Ethiopian businessmen and the government. So, there is no need to build another port,” he told Deutsche Welle.

  1. Sovereignty Recognition

In a potential game-changer, talks are also underway regarding Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland’s sovereignty. Such a move could bolster Somaliland’s standing on the global stage, unlocking avenues for international engagement, investment, and development. Additionally, it could facilitate access to much-needed financial resources from international institutions, heralding a new era of growth and prosperity for Somaliland.

Somaliland Finance Minister Saad Ali Shire expressed his hope to Deutsche Welle that the agreement will be signed, “when we get recognition, it will be politically important because we will have a voice on the international stage.”

The Minister of Finance said that the recognition that Somaliland will receive will “open the door for investment, trade, travel and development, and it will be beneficial in terms of economy.”

“We can borrow money from international financial institutions,” said Dr. Saad Ali, who expects “many doors” to open for Somaliland as a result of the recognition.

The agreement, which gives the first recognition to Somaliland, will allow the Ethiopian navy to get a military base on a 50-year lease. As Dr. Essa says, “They are not two different things. They are two interconnected things.”

“When we agree to sign the lease agreement, at the same table and on the same day, the Ethiopian declaration recognizing Somaliland should be followed immediately,” explained the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

  1. Geo-Political Ramifications

However, the path to this historic agreement is not without its challenges. The opposition from Somalia’s Federal Government, citing concerns about territorial integrity, underscores the complex dynamics at play. The involvement of the Group of Seven (G7) countries, urging dialogue and peaceful resolution of tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia, further highlights the delicate balancing act required to navigate this intricate geopolitical landscape.

“Somaliland is a sovereign country. In this way, we can customize bilateral relations and sign agreements with the countries we want,” says Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Essa, but he does not fear that Somalia’s opposition will become an obstacle.

“We know that Hassan Sheikh and his team have been trying to get the MoU rejected by going to different countries and different partners. But I don’t think there is any chance that they will be able to do that,” said Dr. Essa, who explained to Deutsche Welle that he is not concerned about the efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia.

Dr. Essa Kayd says that the Gulf of Aden, where Ethiopia can establish its naval base, has become a dumping ground for illegal byproducts and sludge. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the area is facing many problems including piracy, illegal fishing, and illegal human and wildlife trafficking.

Dr Essa Kayd stated that the Ethiopian Navy has a military base in the Gulf of Aden on the coast of Somaliland and will provide additional guarantees to control and alleviate the problems.

Conclusion: Towards a Brighter Future

As negotiations between Ethiopia and Somaliland inch closer to a potential resolution, the prospect of a naval base agreement and sovereignty recognition holds immense promise for both nations. Beyond the geopolitical ramifications, this agreement has the potential to foster regional stability, economic growth, and enhanced cooperation in the Horn of Africa. As the final chapters of this historic agreement unfold, the world watches with bated breath, anticipating the dawn of a new era in the region.