Region

Horn of Africa

Stories under this heading cover the Horn of Africa.

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Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

The Somali cabinet formally approved a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey on Wednesday, authorising Ankara to build, train and equip the Somali navy and reportedly defend its territorial waters amid tensions with Ethiopia. The agreement strengthens Turkish political and military position in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region amid increasing concerns about security in the strategic waterway. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre described the agreement at the cabinet meeting as a “historic” one that would become a “legacy” for the Somali nation in the long run.  “This agreement will put an end to the fear of terrorism, pirates, illegal fishing, poisoning, abuse and threats from abroad,” he said, according to the local reports. A Turkish defence official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the agreement would be public simultaneously as it is ratified by the Turkish parliament and the president. “We cannot reveal the details as it has a long way to be ratified,” the official added.  The Turkish Navy already operates off the shore of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden under a UN mission to combat piracy and armed robbery since 2009. 

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Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

The Somali cabinet formally approved a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey on Wednesday, authorising Ankara to build, train and equip the Somali navy and reportedly defend its territorial waters amid tensions with Ethiopia. The agreement strengthens Turkish political and military position in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region amid increasing concerns about security in the strategic waterway. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre described the agreement at the cabinet meeting as a “historic” one that would become a “legacy” for the Somali nation in the long run.  “This agreement will put an end to the fear of terrorism, pirates, illegal fishing, poisoning, abuse and threats from abroad,” he said, according to the local reports. A Turkish defence official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the agreement would be public simultaneously as it is ratified by the Turkish parliament and the president. “We cannot reveal the details as it has a long way to be ratified,” the official added.  The Turkish Navy already operates off the shore of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden under a UN mission to combat piracy and armed robbery since 2009. 
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EU, AU and US say crises in Sudan and in Ethiopia-Somalia relations threaten regional stability in the Horn of Africa

EU, AU and US say crises in Sudan and in Ethiopia-Somalia relations threaten regional stability in the Horn of Africa

The African Union, European Union, and United States called Thursday (18 January) for an immediate cease-fire and constructive dialogue between warring factions in Sudan. They also called for an end to tension between Somalia and Ethiopia over an agreement signed between Ethiopia and Somalia’s breakaway region Somaliland. Representatives of the AU, EU and US spoke in Kampala, Uganda, after the meeting of an East African regional bloc. They said the two crises are threatening regional stability in the Horn of Africa. Annette Weber, the EU special envoy for the Horn of Africa, said the two crises have a common link with Red Sea, which she called a critical waterway carrying 10 percent of global cargo. Weber also said there needs to be a collective response among Horn of Africa countries against attacks on ships by Yemen-based Houthi rebels. Regarding Somalia, the AU, EU and US said they recognize the country’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, including the breakaway region of Somaliland.
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Maersk and Hapag Lloyd re-route shipping away from Red Sea

Maersk and Hapag Lloyd re-route shipping away from Red Sea

Denmark's Maersk and German rival Hapag-Lloyd said their container ships would continue to avoid the Red Sea route that gives access to the Suez Canal following a weekend attack on one of Maersk's vessels. Both shipping giants have been rerouting some sailings via Africa's southern Cape of Good Hope as Yemen-based Houthi militants attack cargo vessels in the Red Sea. The disruption threatens to drive up delivery costs for goods, raising fears it could trigger a fresh bout of global inflation. Maersk had on Sunday paused all Red Sea sailings for 48 hours following attempts by Houthi militants to board the Maersk Hangzhou. U.S. military helicopters repelled the assault and killed 10 of the attackers. "An investigation into the incident is ongoing, and we will continue to pause all cargo movement through the area while we further assess the constantly evolving situation," Maersk said in a statement. "In cases where it makes most sense for our customers, vessels will be rerouted and continue their journey around the Cape of Good Hope." Maersk had more than 30 container vessels set to sail through Suez via the Red Sea, an advisory on Monday showed, while 17 other voyages were put on hold. Hapag-Lloyd said its vessels would continue to divert away from the Red Sea — sailing instead via Africa's southern tip — until at least January 9, when it will decide whether to continue rerouting its ships. The Suez Canal is used by roughly one-third of global container ship cargo. Redirecting ships around the southern tip of Africa is expected to cost up to $1 million extra in fuel for every round trip between Asia and northern Europe.
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New flashpoint in the Horn of Africa after self-declared Somaliland grants sea access to Ethiopia

New flashpoint in the Horn of Africa after self-declared Somaliland grants sea access to Ethiopia

Tension is high in the Horn of Africa after the self-declared state of Somaliland made a deal with Ethiopia granting it sea access. Ethiopia has been a landlocked country since granting independence to Eritrea in the 1990s following a prolonged struggle. Somalia has described the agreement as an act of "aggression". Somaliland seceded from Somalia more than 30 years ago, but is not recognised internationally. It said that Ethiopia agreed to recognise its independence at some point in the future in exchange for military access to the coast. Ethiopia has not confirmed this aspect of Monday's contentious deal. The office of Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the country had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) "to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports". Mr Abiy had previously described sea access as an "existential issue" for his country. His national security adviser, Redwan Hussein, said the arrangement could enable Ethiopia to access a "leased military base" on the Red Sea, but gave no further details. In a related development, Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has pledged support for Somalia in its row with Ethiopia. Egypt already has strained relations with Ethiopia over issues related to the flow of the Nile River, which passes through Ethiopia before it continues on to Sudan and Egypt. In a phone call with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Mr Sisi pledged "Egypt’s firm position to stand by Somalia and support its security and stability". In a statement on Tuesday (2 January), the European Union reminded of the importance of respecting the unity, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia pursuant of its constitution, the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations. "This is key for the peace and stability of the entire Horn of Africa region", the statement added. The signing of the MOU between Ethiopia and Somaliland came on the same day that Ethiopia became a full member of BRICS. Apart from its five founding members: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the Group now also includes Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
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New maritime task force to patrol Red Sea following Houthi attacks on shipping

New maritime task force to patrol Red Sea following Houthi attacks on shipping

The United States has announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea. A Pentagon statement said that "Operation Prosperity Guardian is bringing together multiple countries to include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.” The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza has spilled over into the Red Sea as Houthi rebels in Yemen, who control parts of the country including its capital and some of its Red Sea coastline, intensify their attacks on shipping passing through the Red Sea. BP on Monday, became the latest of a number of global companies that announced the suspension of use of the vital Red Sea route which connects the Gulf region and the Indian Ocean to Europe through the Suez Canal. The United States has condemned the attacks and promised decisive action to deal with them.  The Pentagon announced on Monday the formation of a new international mission focused on countering attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
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Arab League welcomes back Syrian President Assad at 32nd summit in Jeddah

Arab League welcomes back Syrian President Assad at 32nd summit in Jeddah

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is attending his first Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday (19 May) since his country was suspended from the group over the government's violent crackdown of pro-democracy protests in 2011 that led to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In the latest of a number of regional rapprochements, Syria was formally readmitted to the Arab League on 7 May after member states' foreign ministers voted to "resume the participation of the delegations of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic in the meetings of the Council of the League of Arab States", according to a statement. The 32nd Arab League summit in the Saudi port city of Jeddah comes amid a renewed sense of purpose and unity across the Arab world. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh said that he hoped the summit in Saudi Arabia "will lead to recommendations and decisions that contribute to resolving critical situations and difficult conditions faced by the Arab world, while preserving unity and solidarity among Arab brothers."