AFRICA/SOMALIA - Naval agreement between Somalia and Turkey to counter the one between Ethiopia and Somaliland?

Thursday, 22 February 2024 military  

Mogadishu (Agenzia Fides) - "Somalia does not want foreign powers to fight on its territory," said Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, assuring that the naval military agreement approved yesterday February 21st (but signed on February 8th), between his country and Turkey is not directed against Ethiopia. This country signed a maritime transport agreement with the separatist region of Somaliland on January 1 (see Fides, 3/1/2024 and 9/1/2024). The ten-year agreement, approved by the Somali Council of Ministers, gives Turkey "full authority" over Somali territorial waters and obliges it to protect and defend them.
The agreement stipulates that Turkey will receive 30 percent of the revenue from Somalia's exclusive economic zone, whose are still largely to be exploited (apart from fishing). In return, Ankara undertakes to rebuild and equip the Somali navy. The new agreement strengthens relations between Somalia and Turkey, which has already set up a military base in Mogadishu since 2017 to train Somali troops, in particular members of the elite “GorGor” corps deployed in the fight against the Shabaab militia. The expansion of naval cooperation will allow the Turkish Navy to maintain a stable presence in the waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf, where Ankara has already maintained a naval base in Qatar for several years. In parallel to the agreement with Somalia, Turkey signed an agreement with Djibouti in which Ankara pledges to provide military training and financial support to the small state's armed forces at the mouth of the Bab el-Mandab Strait, the gateway to the Red Sea. For his part, the President of Somaliland reacted to the agreements signed by Somalia with Turkey, stating that the agreement concluded by the self-proclaimed state with Ethiopia would be enforced in any case, even if Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud were to "draw Ethiopia and Egypt into the conflict".
Even Egypt, which is at loggerheads with Ethiopia over the Ethiopian dam on the Blue Nile (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam), has concluded a defense agreement with Mogadishu. On the other hand, there are still agreements under which Ethiopia supports Somalia in the fight against the Shabaab militia, while Mogadishu is also supported by the United Arab Emirates (which recently lost three soldiers in an attack attributed to the Shabaab militia), Eritrea and United States. Last week, the United States and Somalia signed an agreement to build five military bases for the Somali National Army. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/2/2024)