Turkish and Somalia Strategic Relations: Opportunities and Challenges

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Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 1
Turkish and Somalia Strategic Relations: Opportunities and Challenges:
Appraisal of Turkish – Somalia’s strategic relations provide comparable analytical views for
current events and issues, demonstrating the significance of enduring geostrategic and socialcultural
ties in determining this relationship. Both countries have used foreign policy diplomacy
as a medium of engagement to utilize the opportunities available in the international scene to
accomplish their national interests. At the same time, to confront challenges threatening their
relations and strategic interests, such as security, economic, social-cultural tie, military alliance,
geopolitics, and many more.
Undoubtedly, Turkey – Somalia’s historical path started from the Ottoman Empire, until officially
Turkey opened its embassy in Mogadishu in 1979, which started the contemporary diplomatic
relations between the two countries. However, the embassy was temporarily closed in 1991 due to
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 2
the Somalia political instability and civil war and was subsequently reopened on November 1,
2011. Since then, the relations between Turkey and Somalia have developed to a new level of
strategic engagement, which led to the establishment of the Turkish Consulate General in Hargeisa
in June 2014.
Besides, Turkey remained resolute during the conflict that engulfed Somalia in the 1990s and
demonstrated its commitment to the strategic alliance through the various supports rendered to
Somalia. Afterward, Turkey immensely contributed to the restoration of peace and political
stability to Somalia and was also at the forefront of rebuilding Somalia, especially during the
terrible drought that befell Somalia in 2011.
On the one hand, the historical visit of then-Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan to Somalia in the same
2011 to personally associate with Somalia’s people and share in their pain during the country
difficulty phase was a turning moment in the strategic relations. Moreover, it was the first visit of
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 3
any prominent leader outside Africa to Somalia, which drew the world’s attention to what is
happening in Somalia.
Opportunities
Following the Turkish President’s visit to Somalia in 2011 and other subsequent visits in 2015 and
2016 opened several opportunities for the two countries to explore and utilize to realize their
respective and collective strategic goals. The visits witnessed a tremendous improvement in their
relations and changed the negative narrative between the two countries. The opportunities created
by the visits led to the emergence of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, Turkish
Red Crescent, and Turkish non-governmental organizations, which oversee Turkey’s most
significant international aid operation in Somalia.
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 4
The report of the Turkish Foreign Ministry indicates that Turkish humanitarian and technical
development assistance to Somalia has exceeded 1 billion US Dollars. They spent the amount on
critical infrastructural projects and services such as roads construction, health, education, and
municipal services, including the building of Turkey’s largest Embassy Complex in the world in
Mogadishu.
The diplomatic engagement between Turkey and Somalia created an opportunity for the former to
penetrate the rest of Africa countries and the latter to be welcome back to the international scene
after years of isolation. Thus, the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the historic visit of
President Erdogan to Somalia in August 2021 was observed with symbolic ceremonies from the
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 5
two countries. Furthermore, some analysts stressed that the 10th anniversary of the strategic
alliance between Turkey and Somalia presents another opportunity for the two countries to further
tap into areas not yet exploited in their relationship to meet the desire and aspiration of their shared
national interests.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19 has created a space in the world’s economic and other areas
that need to be filled. The post-COVID-19 has created an opportunity for Turkey – Somalia to
refocus on different areas in their strategic relations to conquer new ground. The two countries can
take advantage of events happening in the world to foster their social-cultural tie, economic
collaborations, and human capacity building through the exchange of knowledge and human
resources to garner more experiences. Somalia’s strategic location in the horn of Africa is
beneficial to Turkey to explore, as the country has the longest coast in Africa, which is a major
trade route in the world.
Furthermore, Turkey can key into Somalia’s 9th National Development Plan (NDP-9) phase 2020
– 2024, especially in the aspect of economic. Both countries’ investors can explore the vast
opportunities available in manufacturing sector, fisheries, construction, agro-products, and oil and
minerals, including other service delivery ventures that will boost the economy.
Challenges
Turkey and Somalia have strategically pursued similar foreign policy goals to confront common
challenges. However, the political development in Somalia since the 1990s has made things
complex and complicated for everyone involved in the country’s affairs. Moreover, the numerous
internal strives in Somalia are a source of concern to the international community, especially
Turkey, and they pose as threat to their strategic relations.
Similarly, some foreign actors oppose Turkey’s strong tie with Somalia and its dominant presence
in the horn of Africa. Countries in opposition to Turkey’s relations with Somalia are unrelenting
in truncating the existing strategic relationship between the two countries to weaken Turkey’s
influence in Somalia. In addition, the anti-Turkey groups among Somalia’s people are posing a
threat to Turkey – Somalia relations, as different clans seek Turkey’s attention, while Turkey
prefers to communicate directly with the central government.
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Opinion Article | Turkish & Somalia Strategic relations
October 24, 2021 6
Another challenge confronting Turkey – Somalia strategic relations is the unending activities of
the Al Shabab terrorist group in Somalia that remained unabated and has become a severe concern
to Turkey and the central government in Mogadishu. The fight against terrorism has become an
excuse for many foreign powers to interfere in the internal affairs of Somalia and reduce Turkey’s
influence in the process. On the whole, Turkey has used diplomatic skills and its political clout to
keep its relations with Somalia intact against all odds.
Conclusion
Turkey-Somalia relations have passed through thick and thin and have equally generated so much
debate in the international scene. However, the strategic ties between the two countries are wellpositioned
in geopolitics and the international arena. The internal and external commendations the
relationship involving Turkey and Somalia have attracted justified the sacrifices paid by Turkey
to appeal to the hearts of the people of Somalia. As the two countries marked the 10th anniversary
of their strategic relations, which started in August 2011, it has opened a new chapter of
opportunities for them to explore. At the same time, challenges to overcome in the coming years
to maintain and strengthen their strategic relations.
Resources used:
Abdirashid, D. Kalmoy (2021). Turkey-Somalia Relations: A Decade of Substantial Strategic
Cooperation. October 8, Politics Today. https://politicstoday.org/turkey-somalia-strategiccooperation/
Black, J. (1996). Cambridge Illustrated Atlas, Warfare: Renaissance to Revolution, 1492-1792.
Cambridge University Press.
Ibrahim, M. (2021). Opinion – Turkey’s growing smart power in Somalia. World, Asia – Pacific.
October, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/opinion-turkey-s-growing-smart-power-insomalia/
2340384
Mehmet, Ö. (2014). Turkey’s Involvement in Somalia Assessment of a State-Building in Progress.
SETA. http://file.setav.org/Files/Pdf/20141021155302_41_somali_eng-web.pdf
Pitel, L. (2016). “Somalia reaps rewards of Ankara’s investment”. May, Financial Times.
https://www.ft.com/content/bae31b04-fa6f-11e5-8f41-df5bda8beb40
Republic of Turkey Foreign Ministry of Affairs (2011) Relations between Turkey and Somalia.
https://www.mfa.gov.tr/relations-between-turkey-and-somalia.en.mfa

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