Somalia Core Group gathers in Ankara 18 Jan 18, 2013 - 10:02:04 PM
The Somalia Core Group meeting, co-chaired by the U.S. and U.K. in Ankara yesterday, focused on the latest developments in the country and the rebuilding of the security forces.
“Turkey’s engagement in Somalia is miracle in the making,” United Nations Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Philip Mahiga told a group of journalists late Jan. 17.
Mahiga said he valued the partnership of Turkey very much and saluted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his close interest in the country.
The ambassador said the re-building of the Somali army was of particular importance since only 17,731 soldiers was not enough to defend the country’s area of nearly 650,000 square kilometers. Somalia has largely had a security vacuum since 1991 due to insurgents of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab.
There is no sign of foreign fighters in al-Shabaab in Somalia, as they have left the country, but the Somali leadership of the insurgents is still in the country, he said. “They are not occupying an area but moving in rural areas.”
Stability is gradually returning to the capital as al-Shabaab was forced into rural areas by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali armed forces, he said.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected last September, giving the African nation its first effective central government since 1991. The U.S. announced on Jan. 17 that it had recognized Somalia’s government for the first time in more than two decades.
The U.S. had not recognized a Somali government since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. An American intervention failed two years later after militants shot down two U.S. helicopters and killed 18 American servicemen.