A column of Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia. The organization reported that it ambushed and killed 30 Kenyan troops involved in a US-backed invasion of the Horn of Africa state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Turkey Mediates to Solve Somalia Conflict
By Hassan Isilow
Many Somalis consider Turkey as their only "true Muslim friend", citing Erdogan’s visit during last year’s drought and the resulting famine
PRETORIA – Turkey is mediating between Somalia’s government and the militant Al-Shabaab group to help bring an end to the years-long conflict in the Horn of Africa nation.
"Through the years, Turkey, the only Muslim member in NATO, and Somalia have maintained a pleasant relationship," Abdihakim Aynte, an independent Somali researcher, said.
He said Ankara has notable advantages in mediating between the Somali rivals to end the bloody conflict.
Turkey has spearheaded efforts to provide aid to millions of Somalis ravaged by the years-long conflict in their country.
Last year, Ankara contributed $201 million to the humanitarian relief efforts to help Somalis affected by a severe drought in the Horn of Africa.
Many Somalis consider Turkey as their only "true Muslim friend", citing a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan during last year’s drought and the resulting famine.
Besides sharing the same Islamic values, Turkey is also viewed as a country that lacks local proxies or other incentives to meddle in the internal politics of Somalia.
Aynte opines that Turkey could succeed in mediating between the government and Al-Shabaab militants to help resolve the conflict.
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davtutoglu has recently outlined Turkey's interest in meditating between conflicting factions in Somalia.
“Despite our advantage and special relation with Somalis of all stripes, Turkey would play a role in mediating conflicting parties in Somalia."
Somalia has sunk into abyss over the deadly fighting between government troops and militants of Al-Qaeda-inspired Al-Shabaab militants.
The conflict has escalated after neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia to help hunt Al-Shabaab militants.
Analysts opine that Turkey’s mediation could possibly prove to be a catalyst for the rebuilding of Somalia, a country divided along clan lines.
Aynte said Turkey is rebuilding the social fabrics in Somalia by reconstructing roads, airports, hospitals for the people’s wellbeing and paving the way for political resettlement.
The analyst listed a number of projects championed by Turkey in the war-torn country.
Up to 1,000 students have been granted full scholarships in different fields in Turkey, he said.
Schools that teach the Turkish language have also opened up in Somalia in addition to providing aid to nearly 15,000 displaced Somalis by the Turkish Red Crescent.
Turkey has also reconstructed a major hospital and outpatient clinic which are serving nearly three million Somalis from Mogadishu and other remote areas.
Aynte said the net effect of Turkey's contribution to the impoverished country of Somalia is mind-boggling.
Somalia has lacked an effective government since the ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
More than 14 attempts to restore a functional government have since failed.