Somalia is experiencing an economic resurgence that was credited to Turkey’s strategic partnership with the African country following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Somalia in 2011.
The Somali people regard Turkey as a strategic partner that stood by their country and helped it put behind years of violent political crises, terrorist attacks and famine.
As the international community ignored the plight of Somali people that were experiencing humanitarian and political crises, Turkey always stood by the African nation. It has built schools, hospitals, sent aid, help expand the Mogadishu port and provided the students of Somalia with scholarships.
Due to late rains in 2011, Somalia was in the grip of a widespread famine that killed over 260,000 as Arab and other countries in the region kept quiet.
While the Somalian tragedy was met with global neglect, Turkey immediately got involved as it set up an air “bridge of charity” that raised about $300 million in a nationwide campaign which is credited with saving millions of people from assured death.
Steps taken by Turkey to assist Somalia saw a significant increase following the visit of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prompting Somalis to brand 2011 as the “year of Turkish benevolence.”
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Somalian Muhammed Sheikh Taher said, “Turkey’s humanitarian intervention helped rescue millions of Somalis from the clutches of famine.”
“For Somali people who were going through humanitarian, economic and military crises, Turkey represents a safety net. The ties between Turkey and Somalia are founded upon Muslim fraternity. Erdoğan’s historic visit in 2011 helped Somalia in grabbing the attention of the international community. This visit will always be regarded as an important event in the history of Somalia,” continued Taher.
Erdoğan has visited Somalia three times in the past 20 years. The first visit took place in 2011, then as President, Erdoğan visited the African nation twice in 2015 and 2016.
The relative political stability and economic recovery achieved by Somalia in recent days carries the signature of Albayrak Holding, one of Turkey’s leading companies.
Specialists credit the relative recovery with the return of expats that was spurred by increasing the monthly income generated by the International Mogadishu Airport and Mogadishu Port after being operated by Turkish companies.
Air and sea trade through the Mogadishu Port are the biggest source of income for the Somali government.
“The maintenance of the International Mogadishu Airport by Turkish companies resulted in the employment of a large number of Somalis. The know-how employed by Albayrak Holding in the Mogadishu Port enabled Somali merchants to diversify their markets, including reaching the Turkish market. Previously, merchants were only leading toward markets in China and Abu Dhabi,” said Abdulghani.
Turkish charities have set up tents to distribute food daily to refugees who fled recurring droughts in parts of Somalia, as pointed out by Hasan Shouriya Efrah, who stressed that Turkish aid was not confined to nutrition: “Turkey opened state-of-the-art hospitals in the Horn of Africa that carry out surgical operations. Before that, people had to travel abroad to undergo operations.”
On Sept. 30, 2017, Turkey opened its largest overseas military training academy in Somali capital Mogadishu.
For the Somali people, the Turkish Military Training Center represented a ray of hope, according to Ahmed Hasan Urabi noted, “The establishment of the center and the training of the Somali Army will help rescue the country from the terror threat and help develop the army’s battle capabilities.”
The academy was inaugurated by Turkey's Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire in a ceremony held at the training facility.
“My government and our people of Somalia will not forget this huge help by our Turkish brothers. This academy will help us train more troops,’ Khaire said at the inauguration ceremony.
Located south of Mogadishu, the training facility had been under construction for the last two years.
The facility is spread over four square kilometers (1.54 square miles) and has the capacity to train more than 1,500 troops at a time, according to the Somali government.