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Faith Nyasuguta

Somalia’s Parliament has granted approval for a significant defense agreement with Turkey. This ten-year pact involves Turkey providing training and weaponry to enhance the capabilities of Somali navy forces and deploying its own ships in Somali waters. 

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi emphasized that the agreement addresses concerns related to terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, and the dumping of toxic waste. 

This strategic move is perceived as a substantial stride in bolstering Somalia’s maritime security in response to Ethiopia’s recent memorandum of understanding with Somaliland, a move that has heightened tensions in the region.

Ethiopia’s accord with Somaliland, signed on January 1, raised concerns in Somalia, particularly as it involved discussions about a naval port that Somaliland claims Ethiopia recognized in exchange for acknowledging its independence. Somalia, deeming Somaliland part of its territory, expressed its preparedness to engage in conflict over the matter.

The defense and economic agreement with Turkey, described by Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre as a “historic day for the country,” was approved by the council of ministers. 

While the details of the agreement remain undisclosed, it marks a significant diplomatic development for Somalia, with Barre emphasizing that the country gains a “true ally, a friend, and a brother in the international arena.”

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud voiced concerns about Ethiopia’s military presence in Somaliland, suggesting it might be laying the groundwork for annexation. 

However, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed downplayed the potential for conflict, stating that there was “no intention” of war with Somalia. Ethiopia, with a population exceeding 120 million, is the world’s most populous landlocked country.

Defense Minister Yaşar Güler (R) shakes hands with his Somali counterpart Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur after signing the defense and economy deal, Ankara, Türkiye, Feb. 8, 2024 /AA Photo/

Turkey’s role in Somalia is pivotal, given the nation’s strategic location along the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The recent deal between Somalia and Turkey involves the latter providing training and equipment to enhance the Somali navy’s capabilities, addressing threats like terrorism, piracy, and “foreign interference” in territorial waters. 

The ten-year agreement, signed initially by the defense ministers on February 8, signifies a robust partnership focusing on security and development initiatives for Somalia and an opportunity for Turkey to expand its influence in Africa, as noted by Mohamed H. Gaas, head of the Raad Peace Research Institute in Mogadishu.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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