Since the visit of the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Somalia in 2011, and then his presidential visits in 2015 and 2016, Turkey’s ambitions in Somalia increased.
The Turkish government started paying special attention to its relations with Mogadishu due to its important strategic location on the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea from one side and the Indian Ocean from the other. These ambitions were sufficient for Turkey to gain a foothold there, by establishing the largest embassy and the largest military base outside its borders, the cost of which was estimated at $ 50 million.
Gradually, Turkey started carrying out military activities, including training the Somali army, in addition to wide economic activities aimed at strengthening its presence at the African Horn. Moreover, it flooded Somalia with Turkish goods. Under the pretext of renovating the airport and port in the capital Mogadishu, Turkish companies have entered Somalia to manage the renovation operations from the beginning.
In remarkable statements, the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, Muhammad Yilmaz, revealed that the fifth battalion of Somali soldiers, about 2,500 soldiers, will be graduated from Turkish Military Training Center in the capital Mogadishu, according to the Turkish Ahval website. This was followed by the statement of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claiming that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil and gas in its territorial waters, similar to the agreement signed with the al-Sarraj government in Libya.
Turkey has expanded its presence in several Arab countries by always using the same key: The army, with providing military support and training, whether its members belong to the recognized governments or to the opposition. That was done in Syria and Libya in particular. Turkey also uses a second key called political Islam, for the same goals.
The training operations carried out by the Turkish army in Somalia include basic training for about three months in Mogadishu, and then transporting the soldiers by air to the commando center in the state of Sparta, western Turkey, as all the mercenaries of various nationalities who were trained there, receiving additional training for three months. According to Yilmaz statements, those soldiers completed their training in Sparta would join the ranks of the Somali army, to complete the tasks assigned to them and participate in sensitive operations.
The question is: Have they really been trained to defend their country?
The statements of high ranked Turkish officials about these sensitive operations did not tell the truth. When 15 to 16 thousand soldiers graduate from the Turkish training center, one third of the Somali army would be trained by Turkey. Some leaked information revealed that Turkey intends to send Somali mercenaries to Libya, to participate in the possible battles of Sirte and Jufrah.
Despite the UN resolutions that called on Ankara to stop its intervention in Libya, especially the takeaways of the Berlin conference and despite the Turkish ambassador’s denial of these leaks, his acts say the opposite. Ahval website reported that the Somali soldiers have learnt Turkish language, reading and writing, and alongside the Somali national anthem, they chant the anthem of the war forces and the Turkish Izmir Military anthem.
EU experts have warned that Turkey and Qatar are planning to make Somalia the center of global terrorism.
Political analysts came to the conclusion that the Qatari-Turkish rapprochement, especially in the aftermath of the Arab boycott of Doha, is being exploited for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood in Somalia and the Horn of Africa as a whole and this is obvious for the Turkish-Qatari plans.
A recent French study warned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to enter the African continent from Somalia, a country that has been torn by civil wars for a quarter of a century, indicating that Erdogan is looking for a mandate for his country in this region. The report, published by „L’Express“ revealed that Ankara, since 2011, planned to make Somalia a strategic partner. It provided conditional support to Somalia, facing the famine that struck the country. It also built an airport in Somalia and close to it, its largest military base outside Turkey, in return for a strategic Turkish presence in the Horn of Africa, and to benefit from oil, gas and wealth that are not yet extracted from the coasts of Somalia, the longest in the African continent as they extend over more than 3000 km.
The report confirmed that Erdogan pays special attention to Somalia, as he is interested in the hydrocarbon wealth in the war torn country. He is particularly coveting to exploit the Somali oil fields, in light of a worsening Turkish economic crisis, according to the same source.
The same goal in Libya and Somalia
When we observe the Turkish moves in general, we see a big resemblance between Turkey’s practices and Libya and Somalia. This is what Mohammad Abdul Qader, an expert in Turkish affairs, confirms in his statements to Sky News Arabic, indicating that Turkey seeks to exploit the situation of Arab countries that suffer from conflicts, and attempts at creating relations with one of the conflicting parties in each country, by creating political and military relations, in order to enhance its security interests by establishing military bases.
The expert says that Ankara continues to do this to maximize its economic goals by reaching commercial and economic agreements that support the Turkish economy. Regarding gas and oil outside its territorial waters, in light of the isolation it imposes on its policies based on de facto opportunities.
He points out that Turkey is exploiting the situation of Libya and Somalia to enhance its maritime interests by signing agreements, that allow to explore for gas and oil outside its territorial waters.
Abdul Qader believes that this situation may lead to more problems on the political, security and economic levels. Perhaps this is one of the most important reasons that the Turkish presence in Somalia was rejected by Somalis, as the opposition in the Republic of Somaliland refused Turkish mediation to resolve the conflict with the Somali government, and considered Ankara as a part of this problem, not part of the solution.