Turkey to Open Its Largest Overseas Military Base in Somalia’s Capital Mogadishu

Turkish soldiers wave as they return from Syria to Turkey after a military operation at the Syrian border as part of an operation in Northern Syria, Karkamis District of Gaziantep, Turkey, 27 August 2016. Photo: Sedat Suna/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Largest Turkish military base abroad is to be opened in Mogadishu, Somalia, in September.
  • Last year, Turkey opened in Mogadishu its largest embassy.
  • Turkish base will be a training camp for the Somali military.
  • It has the capacity to train 1,500 troops at a time.
  • Somalia is still under attack by radical Islamists such as the Al-Shabab group.

Turkey is going to open its largest military base abroad, which will be a military training camp, in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu next month, the Somali Defense Minister has announced.

Somalia has been in disarray since the collapse of the dictatorship of its leader Siad Barre in 1991.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Somalia was seen as an example of a failed state in which the central government in Mogadishu has had little ontrol over most of the country’s, much of which saw the rise of powerful warlords involved in smuggling and piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Some of Somalia’s regions, most notably, Somaliland and Puntland in the north, remain largely  autonomous from the government in Mogadishu, which has proper control over only a relatively small region around the capital. While Puntland is seen as a pro-government territory, Somaliland in the northwest has proclaimed its independence.

Islamist militant group Al-Shabab still controls large territories in the southern third of Somalia after it was pushed out of Mogadishu by Somali and African Union forces a few years ago.

Militants declaring allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group (“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”) are reported to have emerged in Northern Somalia. An Al-Shabab force recently stormed a military base in Puntland.

Back in April 2017, the US Africa Command announced that several dozens of regular US troops would be sent to Somalia for the first time since 18 US special force personnel were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu back in 1993 (the Battle of Mogadishu recreated in the 2001 Oscar-winning film “Black Hawk Down”).

The Horn of Africa sees increasing attention by global powers, with China recently sending troops to its first military base overseas in Somalia’s neighbor Djibouti, a country already hosting military installations of the US, France, Italy, and Japan.

In the past few years, NATO, EU, Chinese and Russian vessels have participated in missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen, including against the Somali pirates, in the Gulf of Aden, gateway to one of the world’s busiest trade route, the Suez Canal.

‘Strengthening’ the Somali Army

A Turkish military training camp, which will be Turkey’s largest military base oversees, is set to open in the Somali capital Mogadishu next month, Somalia’s Defense Minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed announced on Thursday, as cited by Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency.

Mohamed revealed in a statement that the Turkish military camp which had been under construction for the last two years was to open this September.

“We will begin deploying soldiers at the facility. Our army and other forces will receive training at the camp,” he said, stressing that the Turkish camp would help strengthen the Somali Army.

The facility which is Turkey’s largest overseas military camp, is spread over 4 square km (1.54 square miles) and has the capacity to train more than 1,500 troops at a time.

It also holds three military residential complexes and schools.

More than 200 Turkish military personnel will come to the facility to train the Somali Armed Forces and provide security to the compound, according to the Turkish mission in Somalia.

Turkey opened its largest embassy in Mogadishu last year, to help the East African country fight drought.

Because of the ongoing civil conflict and a drought, Somalia is presently facing a devastating famine crisis, while its coast has recently seen the return of Somali pirates to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for the first time since 2012.

The 22,000 troops of the African Union stationed in Somalia are planned to withdraw by the end of 2020, beginning in 2018.

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