Somalia Rejects Mediation With Ethiopia Over Somaliland Port Deal

    Somalia Rejects Mediation With Ethiopia Over Somaliland Port Deal
    Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The Somali Foreign Ministry stated on Thursday that Mogadishu will not engage in mediation with Addis Ababa unless Ethiopia retracts its controversial deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland. The agreement would give access to the sea to the country that has been landlocked since Eritrea declared independence in 1993.

    • Under a memorandum of understanding signed on Jan. 1, Ethiopia would be given a 50-year lease to establish commercial maritime services as well as a naval base on the strategically important Gulf of Aden, with Somaliland getting a stake in Ethiopian Airlines in exchange.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Neighboring countries, especially Somalia, should come to their senses and realize that granting Ethiopia sea access would be in the best interest of the entire continent, as it would promote stability and unity in the region as well as boost its economic growth. It's outrageous that a peaceful and mutually beneficial agreement has been met with such a hostile response.

    Narrative B

    When Ethiopian officials claim their country has the right to own access to the sea, they are merely replicating a narrative that is as old as modern Ethiopia itself — and that has a lot in common with Nazi Germany's imperialist "Lebensraum" notion. Given that international law doesn't recognize ports and territorial waters as subject to the legal title of a state, Addis Ababa must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that at least 10 countries will formally recognize Somaliland as an independent state by October 2047, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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