MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Turkish government has pledged total commitment in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants, an Al-Qaida linked group which has been terrorizing civilians and security forces across East Africa, as Somalia prepares for a post-AMISOM transition, which is likely to be effected in 2021.
Mehmet Yilmaz, the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, on Thursday said Ankara will assist Mogadishu in capacity training and equipping of the Somali National Army [SNA], adding that a stable country can only be realized by a formidable force which will take over security responsibilities.
The envoy said the Turk-som, which is responsible for training SNA’s Gor Gor troops, will be enhanced to increase the capacity. So far, Turkey trains up to 1,500 Gor Gor Special Forces at ago and has continued to support them in-field operations against the Al-Shabaab across the country.
“We have built the biggest overseas military base in Somalia and this is an indication of how we are committed to change fortunes. We are able to train up to 1500 soldiers at ago and with a stable army, Somalia can effectively fight these terrorists,” he said at a function in Mogadishu.
During the function, Mahmet Yilmaz handed over 12 armored personnel vehicles to the SNA chief Gen. Yusuf Rageh which will be used by the Gor Gor troops across the country. The troops are taking part in the ongoing anti-Al-Shabaab campaigns which have lasted for several months now.
According to him, the Turkish government donated the 12 military vehicles with an intention to promote Somali forces in the fight against Al-Shabaab fighters in the country. He said more donations will be made as Turkey steps up in the fight against the militants.
The Turkish government has also been able to focus on development and construction in Somalia without coming to direct conflict with other states in the region. However, the focus on construction has often been disrupted by the Al-Shabaab militants.
For instance, the militants admitted in December last year of targeting a Turkish convoy in Mogadishu in the attack which left over 90 people dead. At least two Turkish contractors were killed and several injured as the Al-Shabaab condemned Ankara of external interference in Somalia.
In June, an Al-Shabaab suicide bomber detonated himself outside the Turkish military base in Somalia during the recruitment exercise. Turkey promised to help Somalia fight the terrorists, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying that “we shall not be intimidated by the criminal elements”.
The Somali Defense Minister Hassan Ali Mohamed and Somali Armed Forces commander Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rageh received the donation at a ceremony held in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday, where they hailed Ankara for the relentless support against the Al-Shabaab war.
General Odawa Yusuf Rageh thanked the Turkish government for their vital role in reviving the country’s army. Yusuf assumed the top army rank last year after leading his colleagues in SNA against the Al-Shabaab in Middle and Lower Jubba regions.
“I thank the Turkish government for the new armoured personnel carriers and their continued support,” said the army general, who is the youngest to lead the SNA troops in the history of the Horn of Africa nation which has been dealing with instability since 1990.