The neo-Ottoman government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a political ally and friend of Barack Hussein Obama, has announced it is building its second military base abroad. The announcement that Turkey is building a base in the failed state of Somalia comes after Turkey announced plans for a military base in Qatar where 3000 Turkish troops will be stationed and its first aircraft carrier.
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Turkey’s announcement that it is building its second military base in Somalia came after the Erdogan-controlled Turkish parliament approved a law authorizing Turkish troops to be deployed to Somalia to fight the Al Shabaab guerrillas movement, which is allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL has, ironically, received financial, personnel, intelligence, and military support from Turkey in its operations in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. A Turkish firm already manages the Somali port of Mogadishu under a 20-year contract.
Officially, the mission of Turkey’s base in Somalia is to train troops of the fledgling Somali National Army. However, the neo-Ottoman ambitions of Erdogan’s government have rattled nerves in the Horn of Africa. After defeating hordes of Arab Muslim invaders, the largely Christian nation of Ethiopia managed to stave off the military might of the Ottoman Empire, which tried to conquer what was then known as Abyssinia. Ethiopian history is replete with tales of Arab and Turkish slavers who tried to subjugate the Coptic Christians of Ethiopia in order to forcibly covert them to Islam, murder them, or sell them into slavery. The Arabs and Turks, now united once again in trying to spread radical Sunnism abroad, used Somalia as their base of operations against the Abyssinians.
In 1531, invading Somalis, backed by the Ottomans, took over the Ethiopian highlands and destroyed many Christian monuments. Three-quarters of Abyssinia came under the control of the Sultanate of Adal, a vassal state of the Ottoman Emperor. The invading Muslims also brutally subjugated the Christian Amharas and Tigrayans and many were sold into slavery or forcibly converted to Islam at the point of a sharp blade.
Rightly, Ethiopia is suspicious about the nature of the Turkish military intrusion into Somalia, especially since Turkey supports ISIL and, by default, Al Shabaab.
Erdogan paid a surprise visit to Somalia in 2011 following the signing of a Turkish-Somali military agreement in 2010.
Rather than view Turkey’s military expansionism abroad with alarm, the United States and NATO has enthusiastically welcomed it, even though it portends Sunni Islamist security problems for Iran, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Erdogan, in establishing a military base in Somalia, may be trying to finish the goal of his Ottoman predecessors: Futuh Al-Habash or the Muslim “conquest of Abyssinia.”
The first victim of the Turkish military in Somalia may be the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland, which has existed as a peaceful but unrecognized nation since 1990 when it broke from the brutal Somali regime of dictator Mohammad Siad Barre. Although Turkey allegedly tried to moderate between Somaliland and Somalia, Turkey’s belligerent attitude toward separatists, owing to its brutal repression of Kurdistan, is well known in not only Somaliland but also in other separatist regions if Somalia, including Puntland, Jubaland, and others. These will be the first targets of the Turkish military forces in Somalia.
Turkish ambassador to Somalia Olgan Bakar paid his first visit to Puntland in 2014 where he met the president, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. In 2015, Bekar was present at the inauguration of the Central State in Adado. Abandoning his role as an ambassador, Bakar appeared to be taking on the role of an Ottoman viceroy in Somalia. The primary item for discussion was Puntland’s re-integration into a federalized Somalia. In 2015, a Turkish business delegation, with Bakar’s support, visited Jubaland to discuss the operations of the port of Kismayo.
Ali’s predecessor, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, along with Galmudug President Mohamed Ahmed Alim, pulled out of a Somali peace conference held in Istanbul in 2012. Both regional leaders stated that the conference was not “Somali-owned” and that the Turks had their own agenda. With the announcement of the Turkish base in Somalia, both leaders have been proven correct.
After subjugating Somali autonomous regions, the Turks will turn their attention to Ethiopia, where the Muslim Oromo people are suitable “Trojan horses” for Turkish intrigue, and Kenya, where there is a growing divide between the Muslim coastal region and the Christian interior. Obama’s heritage is from a Muslim family of the Luo tribe near the border with Uganda, therefore, his previously-demonstrated pro-Muslim sympathies in a showdown between the Christians and Muslims of Kenya are a foregone conclusion.
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