ethiopia and somaliland strike a deal for red sea port access

Ethiopia and Somaliland Strike a Deal for Red Sea Port Access

The Landlocked Dilemma: Ethiopia’s Strategic Move

Ethiopia, landlocked and reliant on Djibouti for its marine trade, took a strategic step by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland, granting access to the port of Berbera on the Red Sea. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed this agreement as a milestone in fostering closer ties between the two entities, emphasising the mutual benefits of this partnership.

The signing ceremony held in Addis Ababa saw the presence of President Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland, solidifying the commitment to this landmark deal. Prime Minister Abiy expressed confidence in leveraging this agreement to diversify Ethiopia’s maritime trade and reduce dependency on a single route through Djibouti.

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The Diplomatic Implications and Beyond: Recognition and Strategic Alliances

In a noteworthy revelation, President Abdi hinted at Ethiopia becoming the first nation to recognize Somaliland’s independence in due course. This potential diplomatic move could reshape regional dynamics and have significant implications for Somaliland’s quest for international recognition.

Redwan Hussien, Abiy’s National Security Adviser, highlighted the broader scope of the MoU, indicating the potential for Ethiopia to secure a leased military station on the Red Sea. This arrangement not only facilitates commercial marine operations but also hints at heightened security collaboration between the two entities.

Furthermore, reports suggest a reciprocal interest-sharing agreement where Somaliland may acquire a stake in Ethiopian Airlines, although details remain sparse on this aspect.

Paving the Way for Regional Reconciliation: Mediation and Future Discussions

Despite Somaliland’s declaration of independence from Somalia in 1991, it hasn’t received widespread international recognition. Recent efforts mediated by Djibouti aim to facilitate discussions between Somalia and Somaliland, seeking to resolve long-standing disputes. These mediation endeavours, as reported by Somalia’s state media agency, SONNA, could pave the way for greater stability and cooperation in the region.