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Viral Press Release from Turkish Gov’t on the Situation of Ethio-Somalia was Fabricated

By Hagos Gebreamlack

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Claim: Social media influencers and a high-ranking Ethiopian official shared a press release that purportedly came from the Turkish government stating that the recent military pact between Turkey and Somalia was unrelated to the ongoing dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia. 

Verdict: MFC rated the claim as False

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On February 21 and 22, 2024, a fabricated viral press statement purportedly issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey on the altercation between Somalia and Ethiopia was circulated widely on social media platforms, including on Twitter. 

The statement claimed that the defense agreement signed on February 8, 2024, between Somalia and Turkey was unrelated to the ongoing dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia. The latter two countries have been in a deadlock after Ethiopia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland on January 1, 2024, to access its seaport for ‘trade and military purpose’. Although Somaliland is not yet recognized internationally  as a country, Somalia considers it as part of its territory. 

The press statement, bearing the name and logo of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was claimed to have originated from the Ministry (see below screenshot).

The statement asserted that the defense agreement between Somalia and Turkey has aimed to combat terrorism and piracy and was unrelated to the ongoing dispute between Ethiopia and Somalia. Along this line, social media influencers and high-ranking officials shared the press statement claiming that the recent defense agreement will not affect the MoU. 

A verified X (formerly Twitter) account with the name Somalilanders, who has more than 27K followers, for instance, tweeted: “The agreement between #Turkey#Somalia focuses on working together to combat terrorism and piracy while offering military and financial support to Somalia and is not related to Somalia’s recent disagreement with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.”

Another verified X account with more than 11K followers that operates as a media platform — Somaliland National TV — tweeted that “Ethiopia is a valuable economic,  trade and military partner of the Republic of Turkiye in Africa”. This particular tweet was viewed by 65,000 people (see below screenshot). 

Prosperity for All, which appears to be affiliated to Ethiopia’s Prosperity government, also tweeted that his country’s and Turkey’s relationship remains intact despite the MoU with Somaliland. 

Another X account holder who fell into the trap of this fabrication was the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Suleiman Dedefo. The Ambassador, who has more than 146K followers, stated that “Ethiopia does not object any cooperation agreements between nations as long as the agreement does not affect its national interest in one way or the other” (see below screenshot).

However, by referring to the genuine press releases from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that are often shared through their verified social media channels, the MFC established that the press statement was inauthentic. Because, the authentic press releases have similar formatting that are accompanied by specific serial numbers for references. In this case, for instance, the counterfeit statement bore the serial number 34, which contradicted the official press release bearing the same number on the ministry’s X handle (see below screenshot).

Furthermore, the Turkish embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed to the MFC that the purported statement was not issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Turkey. Therefore, the claim made in the circulated press statement is false.

The January 1 agreement between Ethiopia and the self-declared republic of Somaliland facilitates the latter to lease a strip of coastal land on the Gulf of Aden to Ethiopia for trade and military purposes, while Ethiopia could recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country once the agreement is finalized.

This MoU, which angered Somalia, has led to a deterioration of the relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia. Thus, Somalia accused Ethiopia of violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Amidst these tensions, Somalia and Turkey forged a defense agreement. On February 21, 2024, the Somali government officially announced the defense agreement between the two countries. Under this agreement, Turkey will provide maritime security support to Somalia to assist in defending its territorial waters.

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Ethiopian Lecturer Union (ሲተረጎም የኢትዮጵያ መምህራን ህብረት) የተባለ አንድ ግለሰብ በሌሎች ግለሰቦች የሚሰቃይበትን አሰቃቂ ቪዲዮ በማጋራት “የአማራ የዘር ማጥፋት [በአብይ አህመድ አማካይነት] በኢትዮጵያ እየተጠናከረ መሆኑን በመግለፅ መረጃውን አሰራጭቷል። ቪዲዮው አንድ ግለሰብ በሊቢያ የሕገወጥ የሰዎች አዘዋዋሪዎች እገታ ተፈፅሞበት እየተሰቃየ የሚታይበት በመሆኑ ልጥፉ ሐሰት ነው።

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(MFC) is an independent fact-checking organization which is launched to pin-point, track-down, scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, publish and distribute the factual accuracy of claims made by public figures. MFC’s project has geographical priorities. Our work mainly focuses on nations in the Horn of Africa and their diaspora community who reside abroad. We operates from various regions of Africa, Europe and North America. Through a multitude of professional proficiency, MFC deploys best practices of journalism, scholarship and expertise in order to flag, investigate and publish a fact.

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