Turkish President Erdoğan launches projects in Somalia under tight security
MOGADISHU - Agence France-Presse
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, center, and Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, second left, with their wives, attend the cutting of the tape for the new airport terminal in the capital Mogadishu, Sunday Jan. 25, 2015. AP Photo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Somali capital of Mogadishu yesterday, under tight security to launch Turkish-sponsored development projects including an airport terminal.
Hundreds of soldiers and police officers had shut down much of the capital’s streets, where on Jan. 22 five people were killed in a suicide attack on a hotel housing the Turkish delegation in Mogadishu.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels – who are fighting to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government – said they carried out the bombing, the latest in a string of attacks by the group against high-profile targets in Mogadishu.
Erdoğan praised the “major developments” seen in Somalia, after he was welcomed at the new Turkish-renovated airport by his counterpart, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Turkey is a major investor in Somalia, including carrying out a series of major construction projects in a city left devastated by over two decades of war, and now undergoing a major building boom.
Mohamud praised Turkey’s “prominent, exemplary role” in Somalia, where unlike most nations, Turkish citizens live and work outside heavily fortified compounds.
“Turkey did not hold back, waiting for stability before it invested. Instead, it invested to achieve it,” Mohamud said.
“Where other international partners chose to plan their interventions from elsewhere, Turkey put its people on the ground in Somalia.”
Erdoğan last visited Mogadishu in 2011 as the then prime minister, the second major leader to visit the city in years, a few months after Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
Erdoğan had originally planned to visit Mogadishu on Jan. 23, but postponed the trip to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
The visit to Somalia ends Erdoğan’s Horn of Africa tour, which has included visits to Ethiopia and Djibouti, a key port on the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea.
Both countries contribute troops to the more than 20,000-strong African Union force in Somalia, which is battling the Shebab.