Turkey Steps In to Mediate Somalia-Ethiopia Rift Over Controversial Port Deal

Turkey has launched a diplomatic initiative to mediate talks between Somalia and Ethiopia, aiming to resolve tensions sparked by Ethiopia’s controversial port deal with Somaliland earlier this year. The negotiations, held in Ankara, mark a significant effort to mend the strained relations between the East African neighbors.

The dispute arose when Ethiopia agreed to lease the coastline from Somaliland, a breakaway region seeking international recognition, in exchange for acknowledging its independence. This move prompted a strong reaction from Somalia, including the expulsion of Ethiopia’s ambassador and threats to remove Ethiopian troops assisting in the fight against insurgents.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan hosted his Somali and Ethiopian counterparts, resulting in a joint statement that described the talks as “candid, cordial and forward-looking.” The parties agreed to continue discussions, with another round scheduled for September.

However, expectations for a swift resolution remain low, given Somalia’s firm stance against the Somaliland agreement. Turkey’s involvement stems from its close alliance with Somalia, developed through extensive aid and security cooperation over the past decade.

This mediation effort underscores Turkey’s growing influence in the Horn of Africa and its strategic interests in the region’s geopolitics and maritime routes.