By Deeq S Yusuf
Wednesday July 5, 2023
The brotherly nation of Turkiye remains a vital strategic development partner of Somalia, as our burgeoning cooperation continues to develop in the political, economic, development, security, cultural and humanitarian fields. Apart from official bilateral relations, we are witnessing a people-to-people interaction in the cultural and artistic arenas. The rich Somali and Turkish cultures that thrive on our common Islamic heritage and shared values are intertwined, and interlinked, further cementing our brotherly ties. Today, hundreds if not thousands of Somalis are in pursuit of various endeavors on Turkish soil, be it education, business, and other areas of mutual interest. The principles of equal partnership and mutual gain are indeed the main drivers in the Turkiye-Somalia relations.
We are proud of our historical relationship and ties dating back to the Ottoman era. In recent times, it is Turkiye that has emerged as our most dependable partner. Turkiye came to Somalia’s rescue during our darkest hour at the height of the devastating famine in 2011, when President Erdogan and his family landed in Mogadishu to personally kick-start relief operations for our drought and famine-hit population. We would never forget Turkiye’s humanitarian response at such a difficult hour. The timely and life-saving response will forever remain ingrained in our minds and conscience. The catastrophic situation could have morphed into biblical proportions had Turkiye not intervened at the right time. As we are grappling with another climate-induced drought that is gradually turning into famine conditions, we can count upon Turkiye to step up again by extending much- needed aid to help alleviate human suffering on the ground.
The Turkiye-Somalia Partnership is founded on Turkey’s no strings attached development assistance to our country, which is mutually beneficial and truly altruistic. Indeed, Turkiye’s selfless development aid model is what Somalia and by extension Africa needs the most. Our partnership is one that is based on mutual respect for our sovereignty and national integrity given that Turkiye respectfully pursues a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of our country. In the development arena, Turkiye’s assistance to Somalia is having a positive impact in the fields of healthcare, education, and other areas. Through its world-class education system, Turkiye continues to provide access to quality education to our young generation especially in the medical, scientific, and technical fields, which will help raise a pool of qualified, welltrained, young Somali professionals who will play a critical role in our national development agenda. With Turkiye’s assistance, needy Somalis are gaining more access to quality healthcare in the country while airlifts to Turkiye have facilitated critical care in dire circumstances.
On the security front, Turkiye continues to build a professional army for Somalia with the training and deployment of special forces that are playing a decisive role in fighting and degrading the Al-Shabab terror group. While we are grateful to the African Union Mission that has provided security in the last 15 years, its current mandate under the AU Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) expires in two years. As the AU Mission is winding down, we are pleased that Turkiye will remain with us in the long-term to complete the task of building a wellequipped, well-trained national army that can permanently restore law and order in the country. One of the most beneficial aspects of our security cooperation is the fact that it is not timelinebased, but an ongoing one that will help secure lasting peace and stability for our nation.
On the diplomatic front, Turkiye has played a role in the mediation between Somalia and our Somaliland brothers and sisters. In fact, the first comprehensive meeting between the leaders of Somalia and Somaliland was held in Ankara in April, 2013. As we are looking to re-engage Somaliland, we can count on Turkiye to take a pivotal role in resolving the Somalia-Somaliland impasse.
While Turkiye’s mutual benefits toward Somalia are well -known, Somalia can also offer reciprocal mutual benefits to Turkiye. We strongly believe that the Turkiye-Somalia partnership can progressively expand into full-fledged bilateral trade including foreign direct investment. Our country is endowed with vast natural resources, including oil and gas, agriculture, livestock, fisheries etc. This presents further opportunities for both Turkiye’s public and private investors to take advantage of Somalia’s investment potential.
In deepening our mutual partnership, we are proposing a two-way expanded trade in which Turkiye exporters can tap into our economy while Turkiye provides preferential market access for Somali producers working in the fields of agriculture, livestock, frankincense, fisheries, leather industry and more. On the other hand, export development through Turkish assistance can help Somali producers compete in the global market.
Turkiye can also benefit by investing in Somalia’s huge renewable energy potential especially in the wind and solar energy sectors. We also call upon Turkiye to invest in our nascent tech sector as we need to create tech innovation hubs where we can provide training for our tech-savvy youth, create jobs and spar economic growth across the country.
Another benefit Somalia can offer Turkiye is the huge investment potential in our blue economy. We have one of the longest coastlines anywhere in the world that is endowed with rich marine resources, as well as two long rivers the Jubba and Shabelle. Our oceans and rivers have huge fisheries potential while our coastline and beaches offer immense tourism potential. More importantly, our sea and riverine waters can open up new marine transport corridors that will boost our economy and ease the movement of goods and services in various parts of the country.
The Turkiye-Somalia mutually beneficial Partnership is here to stay. Long Live Turkiye! Long Live Somalia!
Deeq S Yusuf
(Deeq is a Social Scientist based in Mogadishu - [email protected]