Turkey inaugurated its largest overseas military training center Saturday in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to train Somali troops in fight against al-Shabaab terrorists. The newly-constructed facility, where 200 Turkish military officers will train 10,000 Somali soldiers, was inaugurated by the Turkish chief of staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire. During the opening ceremony, Akar said the Turkish government would “continue to support our Somali brothers until their country becomes stronger militarily”.
Khaire thanked the Turkish government for opening the training school, and said it would help the government “reconstruct” its national force “not based on clans…not from a particular place, but well-trained forces that represent the Somali people.” Located south of the capital, the training facility had been under construction for the last two years. The facility is spread over four square kilometers (1.54 square miles) and has the capacity to train more than 1,500 troops at a time, according to the Somali government. Turkey’s vast aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine endeared it to many Somali people, and it has continued to pour in aid, both from private companies and government-run aid agencies. It has built schools, hospitals and infrastructure and provided scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has visited Mogadishu twice, and when he made his first trip there in 2011 he became the first non-African leader to visit the war-ravaged nation in 20 years. Rapidly growing trade between the two nations has followed. In 2010, Turkish exports to Somalia totaled just $5.1 million. By last year, they had ballooned to $123 million. In the space of six years Turkey has gone from Somalia’s 20th-largest source of imports to its fifth-largest. “Turkey really has won the hearts and minds of the Somali people,” Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said previously.
Source: Daily Sabah