Handled Right, Somaliland-Ethiopia Deal Could Be A Win-Win

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The recently proposed Memorandum of Understanding between President Musa Bihi Abdi and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has far-reaching economic, political and security implications.
It is important for both countries to develop good neighbourly and brotherly relations in all sectors, political, economic, cultural, security, etc. for the benefits of people of both countries.
Landlocked Ethiopia with a population of 120 million people looks with an increased appetite, if not with contempt to the underutilized coastline of tiny Somaliland. Ethiopian Prime Minister had unequivocally expressed this sentiment on many occasions, in which he bluntly told his people, to neighbours and to the world, the unfairness of 120 million of his people remaining without access to sea.
He reiterated on many occasions that Ethiopia should get access to the sea either by coercion or persuasion.
Although Premier Abiy Ahmed had revised this aggressive tone in later times, however, this open and pretentious declaration had sent shock waves in neighboring countries including the people of Somaliland.

Let’s talk business, not politics. Ethiopia is a big country endowed with a large population and Somaliland is a small country endowed with a long stretch of coastline. Ethiopia is a landlocked country, while Somaliland has unlimited access to seas and oceans.
In terms of business, Somaliland sees populous landlocked Ethiopia as an economic asset, while Ethiopia should likewise look at sea-owning Somaliland as an important outlet to the world.
Our two countries can prosper in this win-win situation.
It will lead to unlimited commercial transactions, smoot flow of merchandise, create employment opportunities for the two people, and boost the trade volume between the countries.

The Puzzling Question
Why should Ethiopia demand a commercial location of its own on Somaliland’s coast, while the existing and envisaged ports are particularly there to serve Ethiopia? According to Premier Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia wants to get a foothold of its own (A 50 year-long lease) on Somaliland coast that will serve a dual purpose of commercial and military nature.
What guarantees does Somaliland have about the usefulness of its port once landlocked Ethiopia attain direct access to sea and its import and export activities will reasonably pass through the acquired port?
In that situation, Somaliland ports will, in the best-case scenario, play an auxiliary role if not wholly irrelevant.
Under this deal, Somaliland will automatically trade off its potential prosperity and shoot itself in the foot.
Not to mention the underlying political and security dimension the LEASE entails, which boils to the danger for Somaliland to tampering with own sovereignty.

By Abdirahman Yussuf Artan