Turkey’s other war: Somalia
Turkey opened Camp TURKSOM, military base and academy, in Mogadishu, Somalia in 2017 with the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Hulusi Akar, present. It can accommodate 200 Turkish military personnel and is slated to graduate over 10,000 Somali soldiers. Lying as it does immediately across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, its role in the ongoing war in the latter nation warrants investigation (see below).
In February the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan extended the deployment of the Turkish Navy in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the territorial waters of Somalia for another year.
Erdoğan was the first Turkish head of state to ever visit Sudan when he traveled to the mainland and to Suakin Island in the Red Sea in 2017. At the time reports surfaced that Turkey planned to build a military base on the island, but with the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 that plan may be on hold. But it may not be.
Over the past year there have been reports of Turkey deploying Syrian fighters under its command to Yemen and Yemeni fighters to Libya as well as dispatching perhaps thousands of Syrian fighters for last year’s war against Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus. Ankara maintains a permanent military presence – troops and bases – in Iraq and Syria.
In April it was disclosed that Turkey had sent over 200 armored vehicles to Mogadishu to be forwarded to Yemen.
Turkey has over 500 troops in Kosovo with the NATO mission there, and while visiting Kosovo in 2013 President Erdoğan said: “We all belong to a common history, common culture, common civilisation; we are the people who are brethren of that structure. Do not forget, Turkey is Kosovo, Kosovo is Turkey!“
Constituting the second-most populous member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the second-largest armed forces (estimated at two-thirds of a million soldiers), it has now also established strategic military cooperation with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya, Qatar, Pakistan, Somalia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Ukraine to date, with plans to expand its military influence and presence into the five nations of Central Asia as well. Niger and Tunisia may follow.
Incrementally, imperceptibly, Turkey has emerged as a world military power in only a few years.
Somalia welcomed another contingent of Gorgor troops…following the successful completion of their training in the Turkish-run training school in Somalia, as the country reinforces its troops in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants.
Turkey is one of Somalia’s security partners and has been working hard to insure that more troops are trained in the country….
As part of restructuring Somali army, barracks built by Turkey handed over to authorities, says National Defense Ministry
Relations between Turkey and the Horn of Africa nation are historically strong, and picked up pace after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit in 2011, making him the only non-African leader to visit Somalia in 20 years.
Turkey has already built an overseas presence in Somalia and Libya. Soon, Niger could represent another example of this trend. In Somalia, however, Ankara has employed a distinct overseas military strategy unlike anywhere else on the continent. Only in Somalia is Turkey both forward-basing and, more importantly, graduating a fresh generation of trainees and building a new military-sociological identity that is intended to shape Somalia’s future.