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President Hassan: Somalia Will Defend itself

MOGADISHU (SD) -President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has stated that his country “will defend itself” if Ethiopia proceeds with the agreement to establish a military base in the self-declared Somaliland region, while also recognizing the disputed territory as sovereign land.

Ethiopia, which has no coastline, signed a preliminary agreement on January 1 to lease a 20 km (12-mile) stretch of land in Somaliland—a territory claimed by Somalia, although the northern region has enjoyed self-governance since 1991.

Ethiopia has expressed its intention to establish a military base there, citing the likelihood of recognizing Somaliland’s sovereignty—a move that Somalia opposes.

Hassan Sheikh stated that he is only willing to engage in dialogue with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed regarding the matter if the Addis Ababa government reassesses its approach to engaging with Somalia.

Abiy had previously stated that Ethiopia has no plans to instigate conflict in Somalia and is only willing to act defensively in terms of maritime security.

Mohamud said that his government’s estimates show that Al-Shabaab recruited between 6,000 and 8,000 new fighters in January alone.

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