As per the United Nations’s recent report, Turkey ranked 11 in terms of development assistance and cooperation, while its closest ally Qatar ranked 23. The report highlighted increasing efforts by a country which made development efforts in other countries.
Interestingly Turkish development assistance has increased about 50 times over last decade (i.e from $67 mn to ₹3.3 bn). But the huge finances being doled out (as it may appear) one can hardly see the economies of struggling nations it committed to help, get any better. For that matter Turkey’s own economic health has been dwindling over the past couple of years. Somalia is one such country whom Ankara sold daydreams for a huge bargain.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made poverty eradication promises to innocent Somali people like he did to his own people, where both have been kept in waiting for years for that dream to become a reality.
Turkish leader has been making hollow promises of economic assistance as a means to intervene in Somalia’s security and military matters. Ankara made more of these alluring promises last year as part of the the Turkish-Somalia Joint Economic Commission, committing to invest in the African country’s infrastructure and trade.
The strategic meet aimed at strengthening bilateral ties was attended by the Somali Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Jamal Mohammed Hassan and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. Ankara gave an impression that it would help Somalia in building roads, hospitals, schools and would also provide the required support to its educational system.
Mogadishu’s severe debt crisis and economic vulnerability left it no option but to believe in the fond illusion presented to it in an elaborate manner by Turkish President. As of 2019, Somalia’s foreign debt was about $4.7 billion, an amount which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) considered impossible for the country to overcome.
Analyst believed that Turkey had a hidden agenda showing interest in a conflict-riddled land. Some alleged that Ankara even fuelled conflict between tribes and extremist factions. But it was a year later, when the truth got unveiled that Erdogan turned towards Somalia in order to recruit over 5,000 mercenaries to be sent to fight in Libya.
Ankara also planned to send officers from this East African country to provide military support to the UN-recognised Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA). In Libyan civil war, GNA has been trying to shoot down the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Turkey’s partner in crime all along in this dubious plan has been Qatar, a nation which is infamous for its money laundering and terror funding activities. According to the information revealed the Somali Guardian and Al-Ain News, the deal plan was executed with Qatari money as those who agreed to be part of Somali troops and be paid soldiers, received a large amount of money and the option of obtaining Qatari citizenship.
The training camp of Somali paid soldiers were based in Eritrea. In 2017, Turkey already decided to establish a second military base outside Turkey and zeroed in on Somalia due to its strategic location, natural resources, and torn political system.
Besides, the money committed by the Turkey-Qatar alliance to Somalia for its economic assistance did reach Somalia but never made it to Somalis poor but was channelled to Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmaajo, Somalian President and Fahad Yasin.
Qatar has been indirectly helping Farmaajo with extension of his tenure in exchange of political favours to the Gulf country, while Yasin has been accused of conducting mediation between Doha and Al-Shabaab, the militant group.
In a sensational disclosure in May, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali (a.k.a. Sanbalolshe), the former director of Somalia’s spy agency NISA said that Qatar funnels money into Al-Shabaab by arranging the ransom payments after the terror group kidnaps Western hostages.
The revelation came with the recent release of Italian aid worker Silvia Romana from the grip of terror group, Al-Shabaab. The entire game flipped as Qatar, who played a major role in release of Romana was accused of conniving the entire plan in the first place.
“Allegations of Qatar having ties and relations with extremist groups and its financial support to fund their activities isn’t new.Qatar has been a main sponsor of Al-Shabaab for a decades. It uses many tricks and channels to provide financial, logistical and intelligence support.
One of their main ways is through a group of individuals who are currently in the Somali government particularly the intelligence agency. In Somalia, no one knows whether Qatar can be considered as friend of foe but for sure it has been a seed and force for instability and chaos,” said Sanbalolshe.