So years after USA and UAE developing clandestine military bases in Somalia, Erdogan-led Turkey has now set its foot strongly in this nation of 11-million people with an operational military base, which reportedly cost $50 million. Diminishing US interest under Trump, may be one of the biggest reasons. Also, Ankara is trying to establish a military stronghold in the Gulf of Aden.
The said motive is to train 10,000 Somali troops to fight pirates and ultras. The Somali Prime Minister, while inaugurating the base along with the Turkish Army Chief and Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, said it will manufacture an inclusive united Somali army. According to Prime Minister Khayre, the base would also help to defeat the extremism and the ideology that drive young Somali men into radicalisation and terrorism.
Somalia is currently fighting Al-Shabab militants. For years, Al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabab is attempting to overthrow the Somali government and install a strict form of Islamic law throughout the country.
The USA has already deployed hundreds of American soldiers to Mogadishu, since March 1994.
The United Arab Emirates also has a military facility where they train the Somali army. The semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia signed a 30-year concession agreement with the Dubai-owned P&O Ports firm in early April, to develop a multipurpose port in Bosaso city. Last year, Somali also announced a $442 million deal with the Dubai-based DP World to upgrade the port in Berbera.
As Somalia regains a semblance of peace, its over-3300 kilometre coastline could prove the next frontier for global powers looking to deepen their presence across this strategic waterway. The neighbouring Djibouti is already a strong foothold of China. Djibouti’s position on the tip of the Horn of Africa offers strategic access to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. China has also pledged $100 million to the African Union standby force. China has deep-rooted interests in Africa as according to a CNN report, China has more than one million of its citizens living and working in Africa.
Ankara has been increasing its foothold in this strategic African nation since last few years. President Erdogan visited the country twice since 2011, which itself signifies the importance which Turks entitle the Somalis. The Turkish model, which combines humanitarian assistance, trade and investment, has been the envy of many nations battling for influence inside Somalia, including the Qataris, Ethiopians, Kenyans, the European Union—and the Emiratis. Turkey visibly and quite naturally, would continue to possess an amicable view amongst Somalis.