Somaliland’s Chief of Staff, Major General Nuh Ismail Than, has arrived in Ethiopia for a working visit. The Defense Force announced on Monday that Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, held a meeting with him at the Defense Force Headquarters in the capital, Addis Ababa.
They discussed military cooperation without divulging many details, according to the announcement.
The visit of Somaliland’s Defense Chief of Staff to Ethiopia coincided with the visit of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to Asmara. The latter has visited Asmara more than three times in less than a year. Eritrea has provided training to thousands of soldiers for Somalia.
Soon after Ethiopia ended no-peace-no-war relations with Eritrea in 2018, discussions on regional cooperation were initiated between Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. However, the relationship between Abiy Ahmed’s administration notably regressed, particularly after the Ethiopian Prime Minister made claims in November 2023 regarding the Red Sea.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed last week between the Ethiopian government and Somaliland has heightened political and military tension in the region. Somalia has condemned it, asserting that it represents a “violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of their country. Egypt and Turkey have used this development to express allegiance to Somalia.
The finalized agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland, if the MoU is ratified – expected to occur within a month – will grant Ethiopia a fifty-year lease on twenty kilometers of coastal land from Somalia. Ethiopia intends to use it as a military base and for maritime commercial purposes. In return, Ethiopia is to provide a stake from its national assets, such as Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio-Telecom, recognizing Somaliland. Somaliland is as old as Eritrea as a state but it has been lacking recognition from the international community despite they had been undertaking elections.
Concerns persist that this agreement could spark a regional conflict. Both state and non-state actors have been urging peaceful negotiations to resolve differences between Ethiopia and Somalia.
The East African reported this past weekend that the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s phone call to the Somalian president was declined.
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