Turkey opens its largest overseas military base in Somalia
MOGADISHU – Anadolu Agency
Turkey on Sept. 30 opened its largest overseas military training academy in Somali capital Mogadishu. The academy was inaugurated by Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire in a ceremony held at the training facility.
Senior Somali officials, Turkish and foreign diplomats attended the ceremony amid tight security.
“My government and our Somali people will not forget this huge help by our Turkish brothers. This academy will help us reconstruct our not based on clan, not from a particular place, but well-trained forces that represent the Somali people.,” Khaire said at the inauguration ceremony.
For his part, Gen. Akar said the Turkish government would “continue to support our Somali brothers until their country becomes militarily stronger.”
Located south of Mogadishu, the training facility had been under construction for the last two years.
The facility is spread over four square kilometers and has the capacity to train more than 1,500 troops at a time, according to the Somali government.
More than 10,000 Somali soldiers will be trained by Turkish officers at the base, a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
Somalia’s government has a number of foreign backers, including the United Nations, the African Union, and the United States, which are assisting it in building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against the militant al-Shabaab group.
The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2010, but their deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa country, which lies along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
The Somali government has praised Turkish investment for improving infrastructure in the country, and the information minister singled out Turkey’s new move into security support.
“We are very happy they are giving us modern facilities for our security forces,” he said.
“This is something that Somalia has never seen even though countries like the U.S. and UK are giving us millions. The difference is the camp Turkey built is an institution that will remain for the next 50 or 100 years.”