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    Hassan Sheikh ups the ante in the Ethiopia port conflict.

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    Somalia has struck a security pact with Turkey to safeguard its coastline and give training and support for its naval force.
    Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s threat that his government will ‘defend itself’ if neighboring Ethiopia pushes forward with a contentious port contract with the breakaway territory Somaliland has escalated the ongoing disagreement between the two Horn of Africa countries.

    In early January, Ethiopia reached an agreement with Somaliland to lease 20 kilometers of Somaliland’s coastline, where it intends to establish a naval station, in exchange for possible recognition of Somaliland’s statehood (AC Vol 65 No 2,

    Other leaders scarcely addressed the controversy during the African Union summit in mid-February, despite horrific scenes when Hassan Sheikh was stopped by security officers in Addis Abeba while attempting to enter the guarded zone to attend the conference.

    The Somali foreign ministry declared ahead of the meeting in Ethiopia’s capital that ‘there is no scope for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its unlawful MoU and confirms Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    The United States and Europe back Hassan Sheikh’s administration, warning that the port arrangement might be exploited by Al Shabaab to recruit new members.

    However, on February 19, the day after the AU conference ended, Somalia inked its own defense accord with Turkey, a 10-year arrangement under which Ankara will help defend Somalia’s coastline and offer training and other aid to its naval force.

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