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Published On: Tue, Feb 3rd, 2015

Somaliland:The Political Economy of Turkey and Mogadishu Uncertainty

President Recep Tayyib Erdogan and HassanIntroduction

Currently, Turkey is the 18th richest country on earth. It is a full member of the G20, and one of the founding members of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). The country has many economic industries like shipbuilding, automotive, food production, textiles, agriculture, finance, tourism, construction along with worthy infrastructure and energy power. It also has well approved and viable economic relations with the highly developed countries like US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and China. Strategically the country benefited its geographic locations of the two major continents of Europe in the Southeast ‘Known as Eastern Thrace’ and Western Asia as well as its rich history as well as the civilisation of the Ottoman Empire.

However, the growth of Turkey has lost its momentum as there are large current account deficit that triggered by the political uncertainties in 2014, led the deceleration of private consumption and foreign local direct investments, plus the Syrian and Iraq civil unrest. In addition to the ISIL activities spreading out into the region, caused the uncertainty of peace and economic development as Turkey faced large short-term foreign debt, in which the country needs to refinance its economic sectors.

The unemployment rate in Turkey is currently 10.4% that made the number of people who are available to work, but unable to find jobs more than three million, because of its highest unemployment in the job market. Only last year 96,000 joined the workforce, but there are no available jobs for them. Most surprisingly, we all overhear that the Turkish government is helping out the poor in Somalia, despite the fact that next-door, where President Recep Tayyib Erdogan closed his border gates from the Syrian children who were dying for the severe weather of snowfall and hunger. The world has witnessed him kissing the starving Mogadishu children from the distance of 2,875 miles, with no borderlines. This article discovers the question of why Turkey is building its relations with the very poor, failed state and one of the most dangerous places of the world, whilst abandoned its neighbouring countries of Syria and Iraq.

 

 

Turkey and Syria

Even though, the nation shares its borders with different countries, mostly the underdeveloped states in Europe, which lack modern industrial and service patterns such as Bulgaria and Georgia, it has also its neighbours in the south-eastern part of Asia, which are Syria and Iraq. The foreign relations between Turkey and Syria has recovered from their strained histories of the self-annexation of the Hatay Province and the Syria’s support of PKK (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party). The two countries’ positive relations started back again, when Hafez Al-Assad of Syria expelled Abdalla Ocalan, the leader of the PKK from Syria in 1998.

Since then the political tensions of the two countries de-escalated and the diplomatic relations has been restored. Subsequently, the two countries maintained and exchanged embassies and consulates. Syria has a population of 18 million, and when it comes to trade and economic cooperation, Turkey can easily utilise the potential market and the purchase power of its next-door Syria. The diplomatic thaw between Syria and Turkey ended when Erdogan became the Prime Minister of Syria in 2003. For the reason that, the sceptics of secularism that Turkey has practiced for so long vanished from the perceptions of the Arab and the Islamic World.

The Arab Spring

The series of anti-government demonstrations in the Middle East in early 2011, which were unique and different from any other uprising or armed rebellions happened in the history of the world. The events of uprising in the region were civically poles apart, because Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, crossed the threshold of ambiguity for the impermanent period. Libya and Syria entered into a political turmoil and civil conflict, because of the Western Intervention on regime change. Although, Syria’s case is more complicated and hazardous than any other country, because of the predictions of further expectations of prolonged civil unrest, ISIL and the religious conflict between its citizens.

The war already instigated almost four million refugees who fled around to the neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. As Turkey is the wealthiest and most powerful country that shares the longest border with Syria, Erdogan failed to pledge a single resettlement habitation for the most in need Syrian refugees. Whilst, Lebanon, a perilous economy and mounting debt had accepted Syrian refugees who increased the country’s population more than 26%. Turkey imposed severe restrictions to the refugees, leaving many locked in the borderlines at severe jeopardies of cruelties by government forces, rebels or ISIL.

Turkey and Africa

Turkey is hardly working on to build up its economy by strengthening diplomatic ties with the continent that the world has recognised the 21st century’s geopolitical and Geo-economic centre of gravity. This happened when the Erdogan administration has driven the economy deep into the ground, and the country’s currency, the Lira loss a third of its value. Africa, at this instant has an impressive outpouring of economic progression where its natural resources are copious and diverse. The bilateral trade volume has reached 26.6 billion USD in late 2014. It is almost 9 billion US dollars in Sub-Saharan Africa. If we compare this before Turkey’s arrival in Somalia in 2011, the figures were only 5.6 billion US dollars. The diplomatic channels and the foreign policy bridge building, Turkey embassies reached its highest number ever in its history with 39 working embassies in Africa.

Current situation in Somalia

According to Human Rights Watch, Somali citizens remain to suffer, serious human rights abuses, which include indiscriminate attacks, sexual violence and arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions. This became normal to the lives of the civilians in Mogadishu and other key towns in the south-central of the country. A hand made government of Somalia, which the international community safeguard has the entire legality and the international legitimacy to sign agreements with the other nation states of the world. That is why we see some countries and multinational corporations approaching Hassan Sheikh and his thugs in order to utilise the unconditioned agreements with the Somali natural resources.

Turkey and Somaliland

Turkey and Somaliland were the first two governments that supported Somalia when the famine hit in 2011. Somaliland is the fourth poorest nation on earth now, and at the time it provided its assistance to the neighbouring country, which they share a common language, religion and ethnicity. The assistance of food and extra 700 thousand US dollars from the poor government and the people of Somaliland turned into hostility and aggression. On the contrary, Turkey received a huge applaud and friendly welcome from both the safeguarded government and its people. The most populous names of newly born children in Mogadishu are Erdogan for boys and Istanbul for girls. Although, instability and terror attacks happen every moment of Mogadishu’s day life, most surprisingly, Turkish and their flag are every corner of the most dangerous capital.

Current Turkey Economy

As mentioned above Turkey’s economy has lost momentum. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ‘’polices to hold back domestic demand in the face of large current account deficit, increased volatility in capital flows and political uncertainties led to a sharp deceleration in private consumption and investment’’ (2014). This ‘’sharp deceleration in private consumption’’ refers as the value of consumption of goods and services acquired and consumed by households. This economic problem happens when governments adopt corruption and mismanagement in public sectors, or the nature of instability and change of domestic demand policies. President Erdogan, who feels the pressure of unemployment and economic squeeze, desires to gain political and economic relations with Somalia, which is creeping its feet into gigantic disaster such as starvation, war and political and economic infertility.

Turkey and Mogadishu Relations

Since when the Turkey government helped out the people in need in Mogadishu in 2011, the country started to expand the airport by building a new terminal. Turkey also refurbished and gleamed new hospital and health centres in Mogadishu. At the same time, Erdogan and his government provided professional doctors in the newly built hospital. Roads and other infrastructures such as the port, schools and public institutions were provided with technical and financial assistance by the Turkish government. Turks implemented a highly visible projects in the broken city of Mogadishu. If that is the case, and Turkey is a generous state, a question of why should be raised. Why Turks closed their borderline gates for the starving children of Syria?

More than 50,000 troops deployed by the Turkish government to prevent Syrian children who fled the distorted nation of theirs, and walked hundreds of kilometres to cross the border. These children are starving to death, whilst the terrible weather of the winter snowfall became the only gift from the heavens, in which they obtain for the last three years. The reality of Turkey relations to Mogadishu is not humanitarian or brotherly help. It is just a pretend, if not the priority would have been the next-door Syrians. It is nothing more than cruel national interest based political economy and the survival of the fittest dogma. Turkey is keen to lay its hands on Somali natural resources, just to exploit and use in a way that helps its interest oriented politics. But unfortunately Somalia is the world’s most dangerous country. Therefore, the big question lies how Turks suited its interest with violence and uncertainty of Mogadishu?

Turks have been bringing in a monthly revenue of 4 million US dollars cash, which goes straight into the pockets of President Hassan and who ever Prime Minister in charge at the time. An estimation of 500 million US dollars provided by the Turks excluding the $192 million, which is mostly known as to be corrupted by the senior officials of the safeguarded government of Mogadishu. It seems that the Turks are now playing with fire as they are supplying finance to individuals who never represented Somalia as a legitimised statesmen. Turkey has its reason to finance Mogadishu, where it gained nearly two billion dollars as shown the projections that Turkish Foreign Minister stated a year ago. But that is not enough as Turks want more from the potential resources in Somalia. This seems impossible, because Somalia is a broken country where the system that Turks are dealing with is not functioning at all. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the most proven oil of the Somali Republic lies on Somaliland and its coasts. Therefore, if Turkey wants natural oil and gas, why blindly supporting Somalia, whilst, Somaliland declared as a state by itself for the last 24 years. Political commentators suggested that Turkey wants more than the $2 billion trade profit of Mogadishu, but if that is the case, the potential natural gas and oil lies the other way round. It seems that the game will end up Erdogan’s double jeopardy politics, both in homeland economy and the political suicidal negative strategy of Mogadishu.

 

Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud. Department of Politics and International Studies. The University of Warwick. Email: m.hagi-mohamoud@warwick.ac.uk, mohamedomar1@hotmail.com.

 

 

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