US Brokers Deal to End Kenya-Somalia Maritime Dispute

The Trump Administration has brokered a secret deal between Kenya and Somalia to end a simmering tension between the two East African neighbors over a maritime dispute that has pushed the two countries to a diplomatic standoff, according to well places sources in Washington and Nairobi.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo of Somalia arrived in the Kenyan capital on Monday under the guise of a UN conference on development. But he will hold secret trilateral talks with top US officials and Kenyan President over the maritime issue. It’s expected that they will finalize the parameters of the agreement.

The details of the deal are sketchy, but the thrust of it was shared with KB by well placed sources in both countries.

Under the deal, Somalia will acquiesce to Kenya about 65% of the disputed slice of the Indian Ocean with the rest remaining under the territorial waters of Somalia. That would put nearly 85% of the proven oil deposits under Kenya, giving Nairobi a major victory in the negotiations.

In exchange, Nairobi will force President Ahmed Madoobe of Jubbaland, a proxy, to void results of recent disputed elections and organize fresh ones under the supervision of the Federal Government. Kenya will also immediately handover the port of Kismaayo to the federal government. That is a major political victory for President Farmaajo who is facing a growing resistance from domestic groups.

The role of the US Government is to guarantee the implementation of the agreement. But more importantly for Washington, the deal will see American oil companies takeover the exploration of the area from European companies, namely TOTAL and ENI, the French and Italian giants, respectively.

The deal will not be made public considering the sensitivity around the case in both countries. Instead, the two nations will quietly pull the case out of the docket of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where it’s currently being litigated. The US has recently helped both countries to reschedule the hearing to June 2020 to allow for the secret negotiation to bear fruit.

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