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The Villa Somalia

Strategic partnership basis of Turkish-Somali cooperation



Bilateral ties between Turkey and Somalia will be further cemented, as Ankara is fully committed to do whatever is necessary to establish stability in Somalia, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım asserted yesterday following a meeting with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire in Ankara.

“Somalia informed us regarding the steps that will be taken in security, infrastructure matters, which are crucial for Somalia’s future,” Yıldırım said during a press conference held after the two leaders’ meeting in Ankara.

The prime minister added that the two countries should develop a model on the basis of “strategic partnership,” emphasizing the importance of strengthening bilateral relations. “Our aim is to see a self-sufficient Somalia, a country that take its deserved place among the international community. Last February, the new government took power through peaceful elections, which denotes a maturity of democracy in the country,” he said.

Yıldırım also emphasized the need for an environment of “peace and brotherhood” in order to fully establish stability within the country, adding that Turkey is ready to do whatever necessary. “Without a doubt, an international military presence cannot permanently sustain peace. On one hand, Turkey builds up solidarity with Somalia and on the other, it supports social responsibility and humanitarian aid projects with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs),” he said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), export on South African affairs Eddy Malok praised Turkey’s involvement in Africa, saying the partnership is based on priorities and ideas from the continent itself, not ones from outside.

“What is good about the Turkey-African partnership is that […] it is based on African priorities and it is not imposed. [The partnership] is based on mutual respect and a win-win situation for both sides,” said Maloka, who has decades of experience both as an academic and as an adviser to South African governments. He also thanked Turkey for promoting investments in Africa, saying: “It is a very good model and we want to encourage other countries in the world to emulate this model.”

He added that like Somalia, countries such as Burundi, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic also need help. “These are the countries that require a lot of support which I am confident that Turkey is able to provide,” Maloka said.

Turkey’s vast efforts in providing aid at the height of the 2011 famine endeared it to many Somali people, and it has continued to bring aid to the country, much of it from private companies.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has visited Mogadishu twice and during his first trip there in 2011, he became the first non-African leader to visit the war-ravaged nation in 20 years.

After this meeting, Turkey geared up in the area of development projects, preparing an aid package totaling $500 million dollars at President Erdoğan’s request, in order to carry Somalia to a self-sustained condition.

Since then, Turkey’s state-run Red Crescent and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), as well as other NGOs, have launched a massive aid and development campaign.

The projects included in the scope of the campaign include building schools, hospitals and infrastructure, as well as providing scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey. Other projects include garbage collection, road construction, waste water reclamation and debris removal, for the rehabilitation of the people of Somalia and reconstruction of the cities.

The Somalian-Turkish Research Hospital, opened in 2015 by President Erdoğan in Mogadishu, was another example of Ankara’s long-term, permanent projects for maintaining stability in the country.

The 230-bed hospital provides training for prospective Somalian healthcare personnel and was built to serve 2 million people living in Mogadishu and towns near the capital, offering services to 6,000 people per monthly average and conducting roughly 100 surgeries.

Rapid growth in trade volume between the two nations has also followed the developments. In 2010, Turkish exports to Somalia totaled just $5.1 million. However, by last year this figure ballooned to $123 million. In the duration of six years, Turkey has gone from Somalia’s 20th-largest source of imports to its fifth-largest.

urkey also opened its biggest overseas military training base in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in September, cementing its ties with the volatile but strategic nation and building a presence in east Africa. The academy was inaugurated by Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Somali Prime Minister Khaire in a ceremony held at the training facility where more than 10,000 Somali soldiers will be trained by Turkish officers.

Somalia has long been struggling against al-Shabaab militants, which recently carried out a terror attack and caused death of more than 300 people. After the attack, 35 injured Somalis, including three children, arrived for medical treatment in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Despite militants having been driven out of Mogadishu in 2010, their deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the Horn of Africa country, which lies along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Despite the U.N. having collected $55 billion dollars for Somalia between 1991 and 2011, noteworthy infrastructure projects were not carried out.

Somali News

Somali President Mohamed ‘ready to fight al-Shabab’



Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, has told the BBC his government is on course to defeat al-Shabab militants, although many challenges remain.

Mr Abdullahi also said he regretted the loss of life from US drone attacks, but defended the decision to employ aerial assaults.

The president was speaking to the BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi, who began asking him how he would assure the safety of Somalis in the face of constant Islamist attacks.

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Briefing Room

Somalia calls for accelerated debt relief to fight terrorism



$4bn arrears make it almost impossible for Mogadishu to access new funds

FINANCIAL TIMES — Somalia’s prime minister has called on multilateral lenders to accelerate the debt-forgiveness process so that the country can access funds to fight terrorism and its underlying causes.

Somalia owes around $4bn, most of it interest and penalties on nearly three-decades-old loans made to the former military government of Mohamed Siad Barre, whose overthrow in 1991 plunged the country in the Horn of Africa into years of lawlessness and civil war.

Those arrears make it almost impossible for Mogadishu to access new funds from the International Monetary Fund or the International Development Association, the soft loan arm of the World Bank that has money earmarked specifically for fragile states like Somalia.

Officials working with the new Somali government, which took office in February last year, describe the administration as the best in decades and complain that lending restrictions are hampering its efforts to fight al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group, and to build a functioning state.

Last year, the Somali government headed off famine in parts of the country with international help. Al Shabaab has been pushed back, but is still able to carry out deadly terrorist attacks, such as bomb blasts in Mogadishu in October in which more than 350 people were killed.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Hassan Ali Khayre, the prime minister, said of efforts to establish a functioning administration: “Now we have turned a page and taken bold steps, we are hoping the world will take a little more risk on Somalia.”

Mr Khayre, a former aid worker and oil executive, said the government had a budget of only $274m, which was not enough to create the social programmes needed to prevent radicalisation of unemployed youth or to address deprivation. He could not confirm an estimate, made by one World Bank official, that al Shabaab had a bigger budget than the government.

“Certainly, ours is a very tiny budget for a country of 10m people,” he said. “Fighting terrorism needs good governance. It means providing services for our people. To do this costs money and that’s why we need the support of the international community.”

Only the Somalis are going to defeat al Shabaab. And if they are going to do it they are going to have to be able to pay for it.
Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia

Kevin Watkins, chief executive of UK-based charity Save the Children, said it was urgent that the IMF accelerate a process to forgive Somalia’s debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative that has seen debt write-offs in more than 30 countries, mainly in Africa.

Mr Watkins, who has exchanged letters on the subject with Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, described what he said was IMF foot-dragging as “inept, misplaced and embarrassingly complacent”.

Mohamed Elhage, who leads the IMF’s Somalia mission, said the country was “marking important milestones on reform and policy implementation”, although it needed to make stronger efforts to improve fiscal discipline and raise tax revenue.

The head of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington, Peter Pham, said multilateral institutions were right to be cautious before flooding Somalia with money. “It’s déjà vu when the dilettantes in the international community get excited about the Somali government,” he said. “Let’s not flood the country beyond its capabilities to absorb.”

Mr Pham accepted that the new government had made progress but said he was not convinced that corruption had been brought under control. “Huge amounts of aid in cash simply disappears,” he said, adding that he suspected up to half of the 27,000 soldiers being paid to fight al Shabaab with western help were “ghost soldiers”, drawing a salary without doing any fighting.

Of the government’s limited budget, he said: “I’ve yet to figure out what they do with that $250m other than to travel to conferences and to pay parliamentarians whose absentee rate is atrocious.”

Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, said he thought the new government was worthy of support. “I’m a bit of a cheerleader for Somalia. This government is on a steep political learning curve but has serious agenda,” he said.

“Only the Somalis are going to defeat al Shabaab. And if they are going to do it they are going to have to be able to pay for it,” he added. “That’s the reason why getting to arrears clearance and HIPC debt relief is so important.”

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Somali News

Somalia Prime Minister fires three ministers



The country’s Prime Minister has fired three ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle in East African nation. Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Interior, Reconciliation and Federal Affairs as well as commerce lost their portfolios as the government hopes to improve delivery.

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