Somalia to cooperate with Turkey on counterterrorism: Somali PM

Somalia to cooperate with Turkey on counterterrorism: Somali PM

Somalia to cooperate with Turkey on counterterrorism: Somali PM

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Sept. 26. Shirdon, who heads a large delegation, is pursuing his visit in Istanbul. AA photo

Somalia will engage in tight cooperation with Turkey on counterterrorism issues, its prime minister announced during an interview published Oct. 3. 

The country in the Horn of Africa faces a constant threat from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization, which controlled the capital Mogadishu until recently and conducted a deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi two weeks ago.

“I’m saying it here for the first time. We will engage in cooperation on security and counterterrorism issues. The official signatures have not been made yet, but we have reached a verbal agreement. Turkey will provide us with training and support on terrorism,” Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon told daily Yeni Şafak.

Shirdon, who came to Istanbul with a delegation of ministers upon the invitation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Turkey was the country with which they maintained the closest ties. 

“Turkey’s place cannot be filled by any other country. It doesn’t only arise from commercial or economic reasons,” Shirdon said, emphasizing the importance of Erdoğan’s pioneering visit to the conflict-torn country in 2011.

“The date of Aug. 19, 2011, is vested with a very special importance. This is the date when Erdoğan visited our country. Somalia’s fate was changed on that date. Until then, no one had come to our country from time immemorial. We were almost isolated. But after that day, the whole world’s approach to [Somalia] changed. Other countries started to show interest. The media started to focus on Somalia,” Shirdon said. 

He said the date of Erdoğan’s visit would be declared as the Turkey-Somalia Friendship Day. 

Shirdon also said the name of a Turkish security officer, Sinan Yılmaz, who was killed during an attack on Turkey’s embassy in Mogadishu in late July, would be given to a school.

“We took the decision with an aim to ease the pain. Sinan Yılmaz’s name will be immortalized in Somalia,” he said. 

The Somali prime minister also announced that the Mogadishu airport would be run by a Turkish firm. 

“A British [company who was previously involved with the airport] has not responded to our demands. So we gave the tender to a Turkish firm. It will be now possible to modernize and renew the airport,” he said.

The Somali delegation held meetings with Turkish officials from several institutions, including the foreign, health and justice ministries. They also met Turkish businessman, giving them the message that they were awaiting investment.