top of page

THIS IS NO LOVER'S TRIANGLE. THE STRANGE TALE OF TURKEY, USA AND SOMALIA. CAN THEY WORK TOGETHER?


SOMALIA HOSTS TURKEY'S LARGEST OVERSEAS BASE
TO SOMALIA WITH LOVE, TURKEY

For those of you who haven't been keeping up on the antics of Turkey on the world stage, you were sure to be in for a shock.


For some time now, Turkey has been moving into a position of influence with the government of Somalia. Now, it's time for them to get their rewards as Somalia will be giving them resource exploration rights off of it's coast as well as a deepwater port from which to operate the ever growing Turkish navy.


So what does the US think about it's favorite and best ally in the middle east getting chummy with the crew that brought us "Blackhawk Down"?


We aren't sure so we divined a way to run a study that will compare and contrast the the three countries, their individual relations with each other and the possibilities that the three can work together or at least stay neutral in this chaotic world.



The Strategic and Geopolitical Significance of Turkey-Somalia Relations


Relations between Turkey and Somalia, dating back to the Ottoman Empire, have seen revitalization and transformation, especially in the past decade. The reopening of the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu in 2011 marked the beginning of an era characterized by mutual cooperation, significant humanitarian aid, and substantial developmental projects. This relationship holds profound implications for regional stability, security, and economic development, notably in the Horn of Africa and beyond.



Historical Roots and Recent Engagement


The Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, initially inaugurated in 1979, was closed in 1991 due to civil war but was reopened on November 1, 2011. Turkish engagement in Somalia became pronounced after a historic visit by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in August 2011, amidst a severe drought. Turkish efforts since then have been monumental, with humanitarian and developmental assistance exceeding 1 billion US dollars. Turkish aid has spanned various sectors, including health, education, municipal services, and infrastructure, representing one of Turkey's largest international aid operations.


Furthermore, President Erdoğan visited Somalia in 2015 and 2016, inaugurating Turkey’s largest Embassy Complex in Mogadishu during his second visit. Somalia’s political leadership, including President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo), reciprocated with multiple state visits to Turkey, underscoring the robust diplomatic ties.




Economic and Security Cooperation


Economic relations have flourished, with bilateral trade volume reaching 250.85 million USD in 2019. Turkish investments in Somalia, totaling around 100 million USD, include significant control over Mogadishu International Airport and Mogadishu Sea Port. Moreover, educational initiatives have facilitated the growth of Somali students receiving Turkish higher education scholarships, exceeding 1,000 since 1992.


A pivotal development occurred on February 22, 2024, when Somalia's legislature approved a 10-year defense and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey. This agreement, though minimally publicized, significantly intertwines the countries' security interests. For Turkey, Somalia represents a strategic entry into Africa and potential economic benefits from maritime ports. Somalia, grappling with prolonged security crises, stands to bolster its defense capabilities, particularly its navy, to combat piracy, illegal fishing, and sovereignty threats.


Under the agreement, Turkey will train Somalia’s navy, providing defensive weaponry and patrolling its waters. In exchange, Turkey gains 30% of revenue from Somalia’s exclusive economic zone, the Blue Water Economic Zone, sustaining its own maritime defense objectives.



Regional and Geopolitical Dynamics


The implications of Turkish-Somalian relations extend beyond their bilateral scope, significantly impacting regional geopolitics, particularly with Ethiopia and the UAE. Somalia’s rejection of a similar military deal with the UAE in 2021 contrasts with its acceptance of Turkish influence, reflecting strategic considerations.


Al-Shabab’s terrorist activities and hijackings of ships in the Gulf of Aden justify Turkey’s increased defense spending in Somalia. Additionally, Ethiopia’s recent memorandum recognizing Somaliland’s independence and offering it access to the Gulf of Aden could threaten Somalia’s sovereignty, necessitating enhanced maritime defense.


Turkey has historically advocated for Somaliland-Somalia peace talks and maintains relations with Ethiopia, effectively balancing its strategic interests to avoid direct conflict escalation. Turkey’s successful military and economic alliance with Somalia poses a challenge to UAE’s influence, previously dominant in the region.


Turkey’s long-term strategy in Somalia also aligns with its broader geopolitical ambitions in Africa. Increased investments, both humanitarian and developmental, have established Turkey as a key player in African politics. Economically, control over strategic ports and potential oil exploration off Somalia’s coast promise significant benefits. The agreement with Somalia further strengthens Turkey’s position along vital maritime routes, essential for global trade.



Conclusion


The relationship between Turkey and Somalia exemplifies a sophisticated blend of humanitarian aid with strategic economic and defense interests.


For Turkey, a foothold in Somalia provides both immediate economic gains and long-term geopolitical advantages, enhancing its presence in Africa. For Somalia, Turkish support bolsters national security, infrastructure development, and international partnerships critical for its recovery and growth.


Turkey’s comprehensive approach towards Somalia, combining development aid with strategic defense cooperation, stands as a model of successful foreign policy.


However, regional dynamics involving Ethiopia, Somaliland, and the UAE will continue to influence and challenge this emerging alliance. Navigating these complexities while maintaining robust ties with Somalia will be pivotal for Turkey’s aspirations in the region.



MILITARY AND TECH AID FOR RESOURCES AND PORTS
TURKEY AND SOMALIA'S PROFITABLE PARTNERSHIP

The Complex Relationship Between the United States and Somalia


The diplomatic relationship between the United States and Somalia is a multifaceted one, shaped by historical alliances, shifting geopolitics, and significant humanitarian and military engagements. From the Somali independence era to the present, the U.S. has played roles ranging from a provider of aid to an active combatant against terrorism. This dynamic relationship has critical implications for regional stability in the Horn of Africa.



Historical Foundations and Cold War Dynamics


The United States established diplomatic relations with Somalia in 1960 following the nation’s independence from British and Italian colonial rule. Initial interactions were characterized by economic and military support within the broader context of the Cold War.


During the 1970s, following a coup in 1969 that brought Somalia under a military government with Soviet leanings, the U.S. sought to counterbalance Soviet influence in the region. Consequently, Somalia received substantial military and economic aid from the United States.


Following the Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia in the late 1970s, Somalia shifted its allegiance towards the West, including the United States, seeking support against its Ethiopian adversary, then backed by the USSR. This geopolitical realignment solidified U.S.-Somali relations for a time, featuring U.S. military assistance and economic aid aimed at bolstering Somalia’s strategic position in the Horn of Africa.



Collapse into Civil War and International Isolation


The onset of civil war in the late 1980s dramatically altered Somalia's landscape. The central government collapsed in 1991, leading to widespread violence and lawlessness as various factions vied for control. The chaos led to humanitarian crises, including severe famine, garnering international concern.


The U.S. response to the deteriorating situation involved participation in United Nations efforts to restore order and provide humanitarian relief. This culminated in Operation Restore Hope in 1992, authorized by President George H.W. Bush and aimed at ensuring the safe delivery of food and relief supplies. However, the mission evolved as U.S. forces engaged in more direct confrontations with Somali warlords, particularly Mohamed Farrah Aidid, leader of the Somali National Alliance.



The Battle of Mogadishu and Its Aftermath


The most significant and notorious engagement during this period was the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. Initially intended to capture high-ranking lieutenants of Aidid, the operation escalated into intense urban combat, resulting in the deaths of 18 American soldiers and hundreds of Somali militia fighters and civilians.


The images of downed Black Hawk helicopters and the brutal urban firefight marked a turning point in U.S. foreign policy.


The heavy casualties and public uproar led to a reevaluation of U.S. involvement in Somalia. President Bill Clinton subsequently ordered the withdrawal of American troops by March 1994. This retreat signified a shift in U.S. strategy, emphasizing political diplomacy over military intervention. The incident also influenced U.S. reluctance to engage in similar humanitarian-military missions for years to come.



Re-engagement and Counterterrorism Efforts


The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks prompted a significant recalibration of U.S. foreign policy, particularly regarding counterterrorism. Somalia, perceived as a potential safe haven for Islamist extremists, attracted renewed American attention. The rise of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, posed a direct threat to regional stability and U.S. interests.


The U.S. re-established its diplomatic presence in Somalia in 2018, resuming operations from embassies in neighboring Kenya and reasserting a policy of direct engagement. Counterterrorism efforts intensified, characterized by drone strikes, military training for Somali forces, and collaboration with international partners such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). These operations aimed to weaken Al-Shabaab’s capabilities and support Somalia in building a stable governance framework.



Humanitarian and Development Assistance


Despite the military-centric approach to counterterrorism, the U.S. has also maintained a robust humanitarian and development agenda in Somalia. Since 2006, the United States has provided over $3 billion in humanitarian assistance to address famine, drought, and displacement challenges. These efforts are complemented by developmental aid focusing on economic stability, governance, health, and education.


U.S. initiatives in Somalia emphasize the importance of establishing resilient and transparent institutions capable of delivering essential services to its population. For example, the United States has supported democratic processes, including elections, and contributed to constitutional reviews aimed at fostering a more inclusive political environment.



Geopolitical Implications and Future Prospects


The relationship between the U.S. and Somalia is emblematic of broader geopolitical strategies in the Horn of Africa. American involvement in Somalia continues to be influenced by regional dynamics, including relations with neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, and the strategic significance of the Red Sea corridor.


Looking forward, the challenges and opportunities of this bilateral relationship remain complex. Continued instability, factional violence, and humanitarian crises pose significant hurdles. Yet, the potential for greater economic development, increased political stability, and successful counterterrorism cooperation offers a hopeful trajectory.


For the United States, supporting a resilient Somali state aligns with broader objectives of ensuring regional security, countering extremism, and promoting democratic governance. Success in Somalia requires sustained commitment to both immediate security concerns and long-term developmental goals, reflecting an integrated approach to diplomatic and strategic engagements in the region.

Conclusion


The U.S.-Somalia relationship, framed by historical alliances, military engagements, and contemporary counterterrorism efforts, remains pivotal in the complex geopolitics of the Horn of Africa. Through a combination of humanitarian aid, military cooperation, and diplomatic efforts, the United States aims to promote stability and counter extremist threats in Somalia. The challenges are substantial, but the strategic and humanitarian imperatives continue to drive U.S. engagement, shaping the future of this crucial bilateral relationship.



The Evolving Alliance: The Relationship Between Turkey and the United States


The relationship between Turkey and the United States is a multifaceted and dynamic alliance, influenced by historical ties, strategic interests, and contemporary geopolitical challenges.


As two major players in their respective regions, Turkey and the U.S. have often found themselves navigating a complex partnership driven by mutual interests and occasional friction. Considering Turkey as an "ally" of the United States involves understanding the historical context, current dynamics, and future prospects of this significant bilateral relationship.



Historical Context and NATO Membership


The alliance between Turkey and the United States can be traced back to the early years of the Cold War. After World War II, the geopolitical landscape necessitated strong alliances to counter the perceived threat of Soviet expansion. Turkey, with its strategic location straddling Europe and Asia, became a valuable partner for the United States and NATO.


Turkey joined NATO in 1952, marking a significant milestone in its relationship with the United States. This partnership was primarily driven by mutual interests in containing Soviet influence in the region. The U.S. provided military and economic support to Turkey, strengthening its defense capabilities and integrating it into the Western security architecture. The Incirlik Air Base, established in the 1950s, became a critical asset for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and beyond, further solidifying the alliance.



Cooperation and Friction During the Cold War


Throughout the Cold War, Turkey played a crucial role as a frontline state against Soviet expansion. It hosted U.S. military installations and intelligence operations, contributing to the deterrence strategy that defined NATO’s approach. In return, Turkey received significant military aid and support for its modernization efforts.


However, the relationship was not without its challenges. The 1960s and 1970s saw periods of tension, particularly over the Cyprus conflict. In 1974, Turkey's military intervention in Cyprus, following a Greek-backed coup, strained its relationship with the United States. The U.S. imposed an arms embargo on Turkey, exacerbating tensions. Despite these challenges, the strategic importance of Turkey in the context of the Cold War ensured that the alliance persisted through these turbulent periods.



Post-Cold War Dynamics and Strategic Shifts


The end of the Cold War brought new realities and challenges to the U.S.-Turkey relationship. As the geopolitical focus shifted, so did the nature of their alliance. The 1990s and early 2000s saw Turkey’s increasingly active role in regional conflicts and peacekeeping missions, often supported by the United States.


However, the events following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks significantly impacted their relationship. Turkey became a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, providing crucial support for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Incirlik Air Base again played a vital role in logistical and operational efforts.


Yet, the 2003 invasion of Iraq brought significant challenges. Turkey’s decision not to allow U.S. forces to launch operations from its territory highlighted underlying tensions. Concerns over Kurdish aspirations and regional stability created friction between the allies, underscoring the complexities of their relationship.



The Syrian Conflict and Diverging Interests


The Syrian civil war, beginning in 2011, further tested U.S.-Turkey relations. While both countries shared concerns about the Assad regime and the rise of extremist groups, their approaches diverged significantly. The U.S. support for Kurdish groups in Syria, which Turkey considers terrorist organizations linked to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), has been a major point of contention. This issue exposed broader strategic disagreements and fostered mistrust between the two nations.


Turkey’s military incursions into northern Syria, aimed at curbing Kurdish influence, often conflicted with U.S. objectives in the region. These actions, combined with a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that Ankara partially blamed on U.S. entities, further strained their relationship.



Contemporary Geopolitical Dynamics


In recent years, Turkey's foreign policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has displayed a more assertive and independent posture. Pursuing a "multidimensional" foreign policy, Turkey has sought to balance its Western alliances with improved relations with Russia, China, and regional powers. This recalibration has sometimes clashed with U.S. interests and NATO’s collective strategies.


A notable point of contention has been Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. The purchase led to U.S. sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program, highlighting the depth of strategic and security disagreements. Additionally, Turkey’s energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, often in disputed waters, have also led to tensions with NATO allies, including Greece, a vital consideration for the United States.



Economic Relations and Bilateral Cooperation


Despite political and military tensions, the economic relationship between Turkey and the United States has remained relatively resilient. Bilateral trade and investment have flourished, with both nations benefiting from robust commercial exchanges. American businesses have significant investments in Turkey, and Turkish companies have made inroads in the U.S. market.


Moreover, areas of mutual cooperation persist, particularly in combating terrorism and addressing regional instability. Turkey’s role in managing refugee flows from conflict zones and partnering in counterterrorism efforts showcases the ongoing strategic value it provides to U.S. objectives in the region.



Speculations and Future Prospects


Considering Turkey as an "ally" of the United States involves navigating through a landscape of collaboration and contention. The historical foundation of their alliance, rooted in Cold War-era strategies, has evolved to meet the changing dynamics of contemporary geopolitics.



Future prospects hinge on several critical factors:


  1. Strategic Reconciliation: Addressing the diverging interests in Syria and the broader Middle East will be pivotal. Finding common ground on counterterrorism strategies, particularly concerning Kurdish groups, could mitigate some tensions.

  2. Defense and Security Cooperation: Reassessing mutual defense agreements and ensuring compatibility with NATO’s defense systems may require diplomatic negotiations. The U.S. and Turkey must navigate the complexities of Turkey’s defense procurement choices and their implications for NATO interoperability.

  3. Economic Engagement: Strengthening economic ties through trade agreements and investment initiatives can provide a stabilizing factor in the relationship. Both nations benefit from robust economic exchanges, which can act as a buffer against political tensions.

  4. Multilateral Diplomacy: Engaging in multilateral platforms where both nations have vested interests—such as NATO, the United Nations, and regional security frameworks—can help mediate bilateral tensions and foster cooperation on shared objectives.

  5. Internal Political Developments: Domestic political changes in either country can significantly impact bilateral relations. Both nations will need to navigate internal political landscapes that influence their foreign policy approaches.



Conclusion


The relationship between Turkey and the United States is a complex and evolving alliance defined by both historical partnerships and contemporary challenges. As strategic allies, they have navigated periods of intense cooperation and significant disagreements.


Understanding Turkey as an "ally" involves recognizing the multifaceted nature of their relationship, encompassing military, economic, and diplomatic dimensions. Moving forward, sustained dialogue, strategic reassessment, and mutual respect for each nation’s interests will be crucial in maintaining and strengthening this pivotal alliance.


Reconciling the Triad: Analyzing the Potential for a Tripartite Relationship between the United States, Turkey, and Somalia



The relationships between the United States, Turkey, and Somalia are historically and strategically complex, each laden with unique elements of cooperation and contention. Despite differing backgrounds and interests, these nations find themselves intertwined in a delicate dance of diplomacy, security, and economic collaboration within the geopolitical landscape.


Understanding how the USA, Turkey, and Somalia can function as either allies or neutral partners requires exploring their individual bilateral relations and identifying common goals that could foster a more integrated tripartite relationship.



Historical Context and Bilateral Dynamics



United States and Somalia:


The U.S.-Somalia relationship, initiated in 1960 following Somalia's independence, has been characterized by periods of intense engagement and disengagement. Post-civil war Somalia saw severe instability, leading to humanitarian crises that drew international concern.


The notorious Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 underscored the complexities of U.S. military intervention, causing the U.S. to adopt a more cautious approach in subsequent years.

In the post-9/11 era, U.S. policy towards Somalia has primarily focused on counterterrorism, particularly in combating the Al-Shabaab terrorist group.


Humanitarian and developmental aid has also been a significant aspect, with over $3 billion provided since 2006 to address drought, famine, and displacement.



United States and Turkey:


The U.S.-Turkey alliance, forged during the Cold War, has been a cornerstone of NATO’s strategy. Turkey’s strategic location and military capabilities have made it a vital ally in regional security.


However, recent years have witnessed increasing friction, particularly over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system and diverging policies in Syria. Despite these issues, economic relations and cooperation in areas like counterterrorism continue to sustain the alliance.



Turkey and Somalia:


Turkey’s engagement with Somalia, especially since 2011, has been characterized by extensive humanitarian aid, infrastructural projects, and military cooperation. Turkey's strategic investments in Mogadishu’s airport and seaport, educational scholarships, and humanitarian operations have exceeded $1 billion, making Turkey one of Somalia’s most significant international partners.


This relationship is mutually beneficial; Turkey gains strategic influence in the Horn of Africa, while Somalia receives critical development assistance and security support.



Common Interests and Points of Contention



Counterterrorism:


All three nations share a vested interest in combating terrorism. The United States focuses on neutralizing Al-Shabaab in Somalia as part of its broader counterterrorism strategy. Turkey's military and developmental aid to Somalia also targets extremist groups destabilizing the region. Enhanced cooperation could involve joint training programs for Somali security forces, intelligence sharing, and coordinated military operations against terrorist factions.



Economic Development and Humanitarian Aid:


Economic stability and humanitarian aid are areas where the U.S. and Turkey have dedicated substantial resources in Somalia. Collaborative efforts could streamline aid delivery, maximize resource allocation, and improve infrastructure development. Joint projects could focus on critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and municipal services, reflecting an integrated approach to supporting Somalia's recovery and growth.



Regional Stability:


Both the United States and Turkey have strategic interests in ensuring regional stability in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s internal conflicts and the broader political dynamics of the region necessitate concerted efforts to promote peace and stability. A tripartite engagement could involve diplomatic initiatives to mediate conflicts, foster inclusive governance, and support regional cooperation frameworks.



Overcoming Points of Friction



Navigating Diverging Interests: 


The U.S. and Turkey need to address their strategic differences, particularly regarding policies in Syria and defense procurements. Establishing a dialogue mechanism specifically focused on aligning their approaches towards Somalia could mitigate broader geopolitical frictions. This specialized dialogue could ensure that their actions in Somalia are complementary rather than conflicting.



Promoting Neutrality and Sovereignty:


Respecting Somalia’s sovereignty is crucial for fostering a healthy tripartite relationship. Both the U.S. and Turkey should ensure that their interventions, whether military or economic, are aligned with Somalia’s national priorities. Engaging Somali leadership in decision-making processes and respecting local governance structures can enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of their cooperation.



Leveraging Multilateral Platforms:


The involvement of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, African Union, and NATO can provide a structured framework for cooperation. These platforms can facilitate dialogue, mediate conflicts, and offer a broader support system for coordinated action. Engaging in multilateral initiatives can dilute bilateral tensions and promote a collective approach to regional stability.



Practical Steps Towards a Tripartite Relationship


  1. Establishing Joint Committees: Forming joint committees involving the United States, Turkey, and Somalia can facilitate regular dialogue and coordination on key issues like security, development, and diplomacy. These committees could oversee and manage collaborative projects, ensuring alignment with mutual interests and avoiding duplication of efforts.

  2. Integrated Counterterrorism Strategies: Developing integrated counterterrorism strategies, including joint military training, shared intelligence, and coordinated operations, can enhance the efficacy of efforts against common threats like Al-Shabaab. A combined approach would leverage the strengths and resources of all three nations, creating a more formidable front against terrorism.

  3. Coordinated Humanitarian Aid and Development: Launching joint humanitarian and development initiatives can maximize the impact of aid and foster sustainable development in Somalia. This could involve pooling financial resources, aligning projects with Somalia's national development plans, and ensuring comprehensive support for critical sectors.

  4. Support for Governance and Institutional Building: Assisting Somalia in strengthening its governance structures and institutions is essential for long-term stability. Collaborative efforts could focus on capacity building for government officials, judicial reforms, and promoting transparent and accountable governance practices. Supporting democratic processes, such as elections, can further consolidate Somalia’s political stability.

  5. Leveraging Multilateral Support: Engaging with multilateral organizations can provide additional resources and legitimacy to tripartite efforts. Coordinating with entities like the United Nations, African Union, and other international donors can enhance the scope and impact of initiatives, fostering a comprehensive approach to regional challenges.



Conclusion


The potential for the United States, Turkey, and Somalia to operate as either allies or neutral partners lies in identifying and acting upon their shared interests while managing and mitigating points of contention. By focusing on common goals like counterterrorism, economic development, and regional stability, and by leveraging multilateral platforms, these nations can forge a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship.


Establishing joint mechanisms for dialogue, coordination, and project implementation will be crucial in advancing this tripartite engagement. Respecting Somalia’s sovereignty and integrating its leadership into the decision-making processes will enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of their collective efforts. Through sustained commitment and strategic alignment, the United States, Turkey, and Somalia can navigate the complexities of their relationships and contribute to a more stable and prosperous Horn of Africa.

Comments


bottom of page