What defense pact with Turkey means for Somalia


MOGADISHU, Somalia - A historical defense pact was approved by the Somali cabinet on Wednesday, paving the way for a possible revolution within the country's security system, which has been undergoing radical changes and reforms in the recent past.

Somalia largely depends on international partners for regulation of its security and economic progression, as the country hosts over 15,000 foreign security troops. The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has been responsible for security protocols in the country.

But the defense pact signed by Somalia's minister for defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and Turkey early in February unlocks the country's security protocols including building, training, and equipping the Somali Navy.

For a long time, Turkey has invested in training elite GorGor land troops, who are critical in the fight against Al-Shabaab. But the country is yet to build Naval forces, that would secure the 3,333 kilometers of coastline. The pact will now unleash this potential as a strategy measure to safeguard the country from sea threats.

The agreement also boosts maritime resources and the blue economy, officials said while reporting the progress with Turkey. In recent weeks, cases of piracy have exponentially risen in the busy coastline, necessitating the deployment of elite naval troops to the region.

Somalia PM Hamza Abdi Barre said the agreement removes “any fears of terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping and any external violations or threats” to Somalia’s sea. The vices have troubled the country's territorial integrity and progress.

For instance, illegal fishing costs the country millions of dollars in revenues, with efforts to deal with Unregulated Fishing hitting a dead end. There have been deliberate efforts by the government to handle the debacle over decades.

Hamza Abdi Barre described Turkey as a “true and reliable brother.” The European nation has immensely invested in Somalia’s security and development agenda, and at times faced backlash from Al-Shabaab, who are determined to overthrow the fragile UN-backed federal government.

"When faced with danger, Somalia is not alone and not without a brother," Hamza Abdi Barre said, adding that Turkey's efforts to restore peace and order in the country 'cannot be taken for granted'.

The agreement was signed in Turkey on February 8. It comes amid increasing tension between Somalia and Ethiopia following last month’s signing of an MoU by Ethiopia and Somaliland, which Somalia condemned as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Last week, Somalia demanded that the African Union and United Nations take formal stands over the impasse, adding that it will defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty which is under 'attack' from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has denounced the plot to 'annex' parts of Somalia, but Mogadishu maintains Addis Ababa has gone 'overboard' by engaging a regional state government. Ethiopia wants to establish a port and naval base within Somaliland, a region within Somalia.


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