Somalia Vows Self-Defense if Ethiopia Finalizes ‘Illegal’ Port Deal, President States

Somalia Vows Self-Defense if Ethiopia Finalizes 'Illegal' Port Deal

Somalia Vows Self-Defense if Ethiopia Finalizes ‘Illegal’ Port Deal

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has stated that Somalia will “defend itself” if Ethiopia proceeds with a deal to establish a naval base in the breakaway region of Somaliland and potentially recognizes the territory as an independent state. Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding on January 1 to lease 20 km of coastline in Somaliland, a region that Somalia claims as its own despite effective autonomy since 1991. Ethiopia’s plan to set up a naval base and consider recognizing Somaliland in return has sparked defiance from Somalia and raised concerns about further destabilization in the Horn of Africa.

President Mohamud, in an interview, stated that if Ethiopia insists on the deal, Somalia will resist and refuse, adding that Somalia would do everything it can to defend itself. While he did not elaborate on specific actions, the statement raises tensions in an already volatile region. The Horn of Africa has a history of conflicts, and the unresolved territorial disputes between Ethiopia and Somalia have been longstanding issues.

Mohamud indicated that he would only engage in discussions on the matter with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed if the government in Addis Ababa abandons its intention “to take part of our country.” Ethiopia’s government spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. Prime Minister Abiy has previously emphasized Ethiopia’s need for sea access and stated that the country has no plans to initiate a conflict with Somalia.

Despite the strong stance on the naval base issue, Mohamud mentioned that he is not considering expelling the nearly 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers stationed in Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission combating militants from al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate. The situation remains fluid, and diplomatic efforts will likely play a crucial role in preventing further escalation in the region.

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