Taking advantage of the ruin that has hit the country since the overthrow of former President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1990, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to control Somalia by entering the country’s weak government in financial and economic investments to supporting its military influence and keeping the record of army training and security.
The last attempt came when Turkey declared payment of Somalia’s deferred debts to the International Monetary Fund through Special Drawing Rights in its reserve accounts, estimated at 2.4 million shares, for support economic reforms in the Horn of Africa country. Observers say that this step reveals Erdogan’s aim to control Somalia and its government as if that government’s existence is attached to Turkish protection.
This step also came in the context of consolidating Turkey’s influence in the Horn of Africa, ensuring access to the Red Sea, investment in the Somali military field by establishing a permanent base and training centers.
Observers of Somalia’s situation consider that the Turks’ focus on strengthening their military and economic influence in Somalia has the main objective; is to compensate for their loss in Sudan after having lost their power on the island of Suakin after the political transition, which excluded Omar el-Bechir, who is an ally of Ankara.
Observers indicate that Turkey would not only form Somali military and security forces, but it would seek to propagate a combat doctrine that is loyal to it, that it would be difficult in any situation to lose its influence. It will also make it easier to substitute anyone after his departure or after a coup against him with someone else who is loyal to Turkey and guarantor of its interests in a strategic area.
Turkey’s role went beyond training the Somali army and helping in stabilize the authorities, and reached the economic sector, with financial aid firstly and secure infrastructure projects, while many Turkish engineers are working on road construction in Somalia even in ports.
In contrast, the Turkish president is seeking to benefit from it all, declaring its country’s exploration for oil in Somali waters, and claiming that there is an offer from Somalis for Turkish companies to start investigations in their waters. They say: There is oil in our waters, and you do these operations with Libya, and you could do that also here…this is very important to us …We would then take procedures in our operations there.
In parallel with the increasing influence in Somalia, Turkey has also moved to Djibouti and Somaliland through major economic projects, and analysts say that this is aimed at controlling the ports of Bab el-Mendab, including the ports of Djibouti, Berbera in Somaliland and the port of Mogadishu to control trade in the Horn of Africa.