May 25, 2024

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey and Somalia reached an oil and gas cooperation agreement for the Horn of Africa nation in Istanbul on Thursday, the Turkish energy minister said, the latest step in strengthening ties between the two countries.

The agreement comes against the backdrop of Somalia’s dispute with Ethiopia over the breakaway region of Somaliland. Somalia announced last month that it also reached a defense deal with Turkey that includes support for Somalia’s sea assets.

Turkey says Thursday’s deal includes the exploration, exploitation, development and production of oil on “Somalia’s onshore and offshore blocks.”

“We aim to strengthen Turkey’s presence in the Horn of Africa with these collaborations in the energy field,” Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar said on X, formerly Twitter.

Somalia’s petroleum and mineral resources ministers, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, was in Istanbul for the deal.

Turkey is a key player in Somalia, one of several states jockeying for influence in a country on the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden — a pathway to the Red Sea.

Under the Feb. 8 defense deal, Turkey is to provide training and equipment to the Somali navy so it can better safeguard its territorial waters from threats such as terrorism, piracy, and “foreign interference.”

The defense deal, which according to Somali authorities will be in force for a decade, is aimed at deterring Ethiopia’s efforts to secure access to the sea by way of the breakaway Somaliland.

Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland on Jan. 1. The document has not been made public, but Somaliland says Ethiopia agreed to recognize its independence in return for a naval port. The document has rattled Somalia, which said it’s prepared to go to war over it because it considers Somaliland part of its territory.

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