Op-Ed: The Indispensable Particulars To Be Contemplated By Somaliland Before Signing The Lease Agreement Of The Ethiopian Naval Base

Ethiopia, Somaliland sign “historic” MoU Allowing Ethiopia To Secure Access To Sea


A military base is defined by (Glebov, 2009) as a facility installed to support military logistics and operations. The military naval of the Federal Government of Ethiopia in the Republic of Somaliland will function as a settlement for anchoring naval vessels, hosting military personnel, weaponry stock, surveillance, intelligence, and test ranges for weaponry, military operations, and military exercise.

The Ethiopian naval base may have adverse effects on Somaliland in political, social, economic, technological and security aspects. It was universally recognized the risks posed by foreign military bases over the sovereignty of host countries. The UN General Assembly had a conference whose theme was eliminating foreign military bases in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Nye Jr, 2016).

As Mr. Muse Bihi Abdi, the President of the Republic of Somaliland, confirmed on 1/1/2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will have access to 20 kilometres of Somaliland’s coast to establish a military naval base by a 50-year lease agreement. 

Following the press statement of Dr. Isse Kayd, Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Republic of Somaliland will draft the detailed lease agreement from their side through in-depth consultations with local experts. For that reason, I, Mohamed Farah, am one of the experts in Somaliland and I thereby convey my technical and scholarly advice on that.

Before the official lease agreement was signed with the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Somaliland should have great consideration of the incorporation of more of the following elements into the final lease agreement:

  1. SCOPE OF THE NAVAL BASE. The Ethiopian naval base shall be limited to a small base accommodating less than 10% of Ethiopian naval personnel, a few vessels and respective logistics.
  2. ESTABLISHMENT OF DEFENSE TREATY. Before launching the naval base, the two countries would establish a defense treaty between them reaffirming commitments to the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Somaliland and cementing terms of defense and military collaborations.
  3. INTEREST AND AUTHORITY. The Federal Government of Ethiopia will have the right and authority within the territory agreed in the lease agreement for the building, maintenance and operations of temporary facilities intended only for the 10% of their naval presence in it.
  4. SHIPPING AND NAVIGATION. The base would be used only for communication, information sharing, and maritime navigation for Ethiopian vessels.
  5. THE BASE TERRITORY. The base shall be not part of the territory of Ethiopia or land owned by Ethiopia by international laws. 
  6. PAYMENT AND PAYMENT TERMS. The payment of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Somaliland shall be equivalent to Djiboutian rate of renting similar military bases to foreign countries in Djibouti. Ethiopia should pay Somaliland quarterly basis through Somaliland’s Central Bank. The currency of the payment shall be US dollars only.
  7. STAKE OF ETHIOPIAN AIRLINE. The Republic of Somaliland should carefully think about taking a stake in Ethiopian Airlines as it mixes up the rental payment with the costs and profits of an Ethiopian-owned company.  It’s an ambiguous stratagem of which the Federal Republic of Ethiopia wants to manoeuvre from direct rental payment to the Republic of Somaliland.
  8. IMPORT, EXPORT AND CUSTOMS. The base shall not be used for any purpose including import, export and customs services.
  9. THIRD-PARTY COUNTRIES. The Federal Government of Ethiopia shall not have the authority to host, lease part of the base, or assign any portion of it to any third party.
  10. USE UTILITIES AND SERVICES. The base shall use water, local materials and public services offered by the Government of Somaliland and local contractors.
  11. NO CEMETERIES. The Ethiopians will not be buried in and around the base after they die.
  12. PASSPORT AND EMIGRATION OF MILITARY PERSONNEL. All Ethiopians, and military personnel entering Somaliland and visiting the base will be issued visas.
  13. ETHIOPIA CIVILIANS. The Ethiopian civilians would not intend to settle, establish business, and not to be thronged into the naval coast as a tourist destination.
  14. JURISDICTION IN THE BASE. Any offences, crimes and guilt committed by Ethiopians in and out of the base will be against the law of the Republic of Somaliland as the base is located within Somaliland territory.
  15. ASYLUM AND OFFENDERS. The Federal Government of Ethiopia will never host asylums and offenders who committed illegal acts and running away from the jurisdiction of the Republic of Somaliland and other countries.
  16.  ALL NATURAL RESOURCES. All natural resources in and around the base, offshore and onshore and in any form like hydrocarbon, land, water, minerals, air, marine resources and gravel and rocks for construction are reserved for Somaliland citizens.
  17. NON-INTERVENTION (NON-INTERFERENCE IN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS.  In international law, the principle of non-intervention includes but is not limited to, the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state (Article 2.4 of the Charter).
  18. RESPECT OF SOMALILAND LAW. The Federal Republic of Ethiopia will respect the laws, regulations, social structures and customs of the Republic of Somaliland.
  19. REPRESENTATION OF THE RED SEA. Ethiopia would not represent Somaliland and would never maintain an international image in Red Sea geopolitics, security and maritime coordination on behalf Somaliland Sea.
  20.  STRATEGIC MARITIME. The Republic of Somaliland and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia would jointly cooperate for strategic maritime transport support.
  21. COOPERATION FOR SECURITY. The Republic of Somaliland and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia would jointly cooperate to carry out counter-terrorism activities, covert and intelligence actions, non-combatant evacuation operations, and anti-piracy operations as per regulations and procedures to be established by the two countries in their defense cooperation treaty.
  22. INVESTMENT IN THE BASE. The Federal Republic of Ethiopia would agree that there is no investment in the base including hospitality, corridor, ports, railway, airports, finance, telecommunications, energy, manufacturing, fishery, commerce, and technology more than military purposes.
  23. ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL SAFEGUARDING.  The Federal Government of Ethiopia will adhere to laws and policies for environmental protection to avoid toxins offshore and onshore, drinking water, explosives on firing ranges, noise pollution, and all risks and negative impacts on the natural environment and Somaliland communities.


Glebov, S. &. (2009). Military Bases: Historical Perspectives. Contemporary Challenges. Lisbon: IOS Press.

Nye Jr, J. (2016). Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. Basic Book.

About the Author

Mohamed Farah Abdi

Mobile: +252 63 4422847

WhatsApp: +252 63 4471307

Emails: info@ancamta.com,  ancamtaexperts@gmail.com, mofarah.nwc@gmail.com
Skype: mfathegreat

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