*** ----> Somalia approves defence deal with Turkey | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Somalia approves defence deal with Turkey

AFP | Mogadishu                                                        

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Somalia's cabinet and lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a defence deal with Turkey, with Mogadishu locked in a dispute with Addis Ababa over a maritime agreement it says threatens its sovereignty.

Under the 10-year pact, close ally Turkey will help defend Somalia's long coastline and also rebuild the naval forces of the fragile Horn of Africa nation, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told reporters after a joint session of parliament.

"The agreement submitted to parliament today is solely about cooperation between Somalia and Turkey on maritime defence and economy, it is not in any way aimed at creating hatred or feud with another country or government," he said.

In January, Ethiopia infuriated Somalia when it signed a maritime deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland that would give the landlocked country long-desired sea access.

"Somalia made its stance clear: that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia can never be negotiated, and this has led to this historic agreement today," deputy defence minister Abdifatah Kassim told AFP.

"Turkey is the best choice to defend Somalia coasts," he added.

NATO member Turkey has close relations with Somalia and is its leading economic partner, notably in the construction, education and health sectors, as well as in military cooperation.

Somalia is also home to Turkey’s largest overseas military base and training facility, which has already trained more than 5,000 members of the Somali security forces, according to Turkish media reports.

It is among several nations training soldiers to take over from an African Union peacekeeping mission known as ATMIS, whose troops are set to leave by the end of the year.

The Horn of Africa nation has been blighted by decades of civil war and a bloody Islamist insurgency by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab jihadist militant group.

Al-Shabaab continues to carry out attacks against security and civilian targets despite a military counter-offensive launched in August 2022, with US air strikes and the AU troops on the ground.