Turkey’s Deep Ties With Somalia Reflect Its Broader Africa Strategy

Turkey’s Deep Ties With Somalia Reflect Its Broader Africa Strategy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during a welcome ceremony, Ankara, Turkey, April, 26, 2017 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP).

At the end of September, Turkey opened a military base in Somalia, its largest overseas base, just weeks before the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history claimed the lives of hundreds of Somalis. Amid Somalia’s chronic instability, Turkey is quickly becoming the country’s most important external partner, while Somalia has become the launchpad for Turkish ambitions in East Africa. In an email interview, Michael Woldemariam, an assistant professor of international relations and political science at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, explains the basis for deepening Turkish-Somali ties and what they reveal about the Turkish government’s wider aims in the Horn of Africa.

WPR: What is the nature of the security relationship between Turkey and Somalia? How has Turkey responded to the recent truck bombing in Mogadishu?

Michael Woldemariam: Turkey maintains an array of security linkages with Somalia, both direct and indirect. The former consists of efforts to support Somalia’s national security institutions, particularly the Somali National Army, or SNA, and the police. The most prominent feature of this support is the recently inaugurated military training facility in Mogadishu, which will host about 200 Turkish soldiers and roughly 1,500 cadets at any one time. With a goal of training roughly 10,000 Somali soldiers overall, the facility represents a real effort to scale up the training and equipping of SNA forces. The installation could be Turkey’s largest overseas military facility and builds on previous efforts to develop the capacity of Somali security forces, which has included security advice and technical assistance on the ground, as well as the training of Somalis at Turkey’s military and police academies.

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