Ethiopia Signs 'Historic' Pact to Use Somaliland's Red Sea Port

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The Facts

  • Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the signing of a "historic" agreement on Monday that will permit the usage of the Red Sea port of Berbera in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland — giving Ethiopia direct maritime transport access and expanding its access to seaports.

  • As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said at the signing ceremony in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa that Somaliland intends to lease a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) strip along its coast to landlocked Ethiopia for the establishment of a base for marine forces.

The Spin

Narrative A

The landmark agreement is a first step towards restoring Ethiopia's historic right of access to the Red Sea. It's also a step that not only advances regional integration but allows the Ethiopian government to continue its leadership in maintaining peace and stability in the region. It should also be noted that Somalia previously rejected a request from Ethiopia for talks on granting maritime access. Furthermore, it's Mogadishu that is deliberately undermining regional peace by supporting Egypt's hardline position on the Ethiopian Nile Dam dispute for geopolitical reasons.

Narrative B

The agreement proves yet again the Ethiopian regime's blatant disregard for international law. The Memorandum is not worth the paper it is written on, as Somaliland is an integral part of Somali territory according to the Somali constitution. That the deal was signed only days after the breakthrough agreement between Mogadishu and Hargeisa is a deliberate provocation by the Abiy regime, which wants to profit from domestic Somali tensions. It's now up to the international community to put pressure on Addis Ababa to prevent a possible escalation into a regional conflict.

Nerd narrative

There is a 30% chance that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will experience a significant leadership disruption before 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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