After days of speculation, it’s now official that Somalia will be receiving Khat from Ethiopia in exchange for fish, following the latest agreement signed by top officials from the two countries, which revived bilateral ties barely two years ago after decades of animosity.
From the Ogaden war, Somalia and Ethiopia have never been best of friends, with their relationship taking a nose-dive when Addis Ababa was accused of targeting innocent civilians during the crackdown against Al-Shabaab militants in 2008.
But in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revived bilateral ties with Somalia, and the two countries have had close cooperation, which is at times a suspect to the opposition from either side. Ahmed and Farmajo have been working closely.
On Sunday, both countries reportedly signed a major agreement that would see mutual benefit. The agreement was signed at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu and was graced by senior officials from both countries.
Abdillahi Bidhan, the minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources along with Transport and Aviation boss Duran Ahmed Farah witnessed the occasion, which was also attended by Ethiopia’s envoy to Somalia among other top dignitaries. The agreement, they noted, will boost trade between the two nations.
Already, Somalia has exported a consignment of 5,000 tonnes of fish to Ethiopia to kickstart the process. Those in the know-how said the cooperation will boost trade besides creating jobs thus spurring economic development in the Horn of Africa.
Last week, federal government ministers and a group of Ethiopian and Turkish businessmen toured the ancient Warsheikh district in the Middle Shabelle region, exploring investment and trade opportunities for fish. This marked the onset of a plan to sign the cooperation.
Ethiopia is a major security partner of Somalia, having deployed close to 4,000 peacekeepers from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] who man sections of Southwest and Jubaland. The team is also credited for flushing Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu.
But it’s the non-Amisom contingent comprising of close to 1,000 soldiers that have triggered conflict, with the opposition accusing the government of working with Ethiopians to dethrone some state leaders. Jubaland, they claim, has been targeted with the strategy.
The signing of the deal comes at the time Somalia has refused to lift the ban imposed on Miraa importation from Kenya. The ban remains active even after the two nations agreed to normalize their relationship last week, with their foreign affairs ministers meeting also in the Antalya conference in Turkey over the weekend.
Shockingly, there are claims that a brother to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo may have been behind the deal with Ethiopia, where he has an interest in Khat. A report compiled by Garowe Online implicated Villa Somalia to the latest deal, which could trigger friction in the country’s internal politics.