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Turkey unique country for Somalia, President Mohamud says

With its support to Somalia in various fields, Turkey is a unique country, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) during his two-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mohamud shared his thoughts on Turkey’s support for Mogadishu’s fight against terrorism and Somalia’s strategy in the fight against the al-Shabab terrorist group.

Highlighting the importance of Turkey’s support for Somalia in the fight against terrorism, he said: “While overcoming the post-conflict challenges, fragility, and economic hardship, the terrorist makes it more complex for Somalia to recover. And this is an area where we identify who is a real friend and real brother of Somalia or not. We are very much grateful for the world in general. They supported us, but that support was not equal in all aspects. So that’s where mainly Turkey is unique.”

Touching on the fight against the terrorist organization al-Shabab, Mahmud said they had implemented some policies in the past in the fight against terrorism and now they have learned a lesson from them.

Thanks to the “containment policy” they implemented, they prevented the terrorist organization from “spilling over to neighboring countries, the continent, and the whole world.”

Somalia has contained al-Shabab in the country with this policy, he said, adding, “If al-Shabab was not stopped in the region, maybe it would be more dangerous.”

Meanwhile, explaining that the second step is degrading al-Shabab, he said: “We reduce the capability of al-Shabab so that they cannot organize. But it’s not enough again for us.”

Pointing out that all these two policies are military-centered, Mohamud underlined that it is necessary to fight against al-Shabab at different levels.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s ultimate goal was to eliminate terrorism, he said, and the military approach is very important and fundamental. “But it’s not enough by itself,” he underlined.

“We developed a new policy that is a paradigm shift that we want al-Shabab to be confronted on three different fronts,” he said.

He said Mogadishu has continued implementing a lot of pressure militarily and also ideologically. “They are propagating the wrong version of Islam. The third is economic because al-Shabab is financing themselves from the inside and collecting taxes,” he said.

Militarily, Turkey has been supporting Somalia by providing training, equipment, intelligence, surveillance service and so on, he said.

In their economic struggle against al-Shabab, he said Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union can provide support for Somalia. “So that Somalia will be able to eliminate the terror.”

“Somalia went into a new era. Although it has been delayed but at least we have elections completed in a peaceful manner,” he said.

“Somalia’s post-election power transition is always peaceful. It shows Somalia’s state institutions or democracy are maturing.”

The serious challenge Somalia is facing is the terrorists, Mohamud underlined, saying the country has been fighting against terrorism for the last 15 years.

Also, emphasizing the significance of political stability, he said security is even more important. Somalia is developing rapidly in this regard.

Mohamud also on Tuesday attended a panel on the two countries’ bilateral relations and cooperation organized by the Ankara-based Political, Economic and Social Research Foundation (SETA).

Mohamud was in Turkey on an official visit during July 3-5. Bilateral relations and steps to enhance cooperation were mainly discussed in depth during the visit.

This was Mohamud’s first official visit to Turkey at the presidential level after taking office in May. He also served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017.

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Somalia will gain momentum following the elections in the African country, Turkey’s Ambassador to Mogadishu Mehmet Yılmaz said recently.

Noting that Turkey’s efforts after the drought in 2011 started to reverse the negative view toward Somalia abroad, Yılmaz stated that the efforts in the fields of security, health and education began to produce positive results.

Mohamud, who spoke to AA in his first-ever international interview, also said in May that Turkey has touched the hearts and minds of Somali people due to its tangible and visible impact in Somalia.

“As I said, the Turkish people and the government of Turkey have a lot of impact on Somali people. The support of Turkey has touched the hearts and minds of Somali people and this support was very visible and tangible and saved many many lives throughout Somalia,” the new president said.

A statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it was pleased to see that the presidential elections in Somalia have been completed successfully.

“We congratulate H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and wish him success during his tenure,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“We attach great importance to the peace and stability of Somalia, with which we have deep-rooted historical ties, and hope that the results of the elections will be auspicious for the friendly and brotherly people of Somalia,” it added.

“Turkey will continue to stand by the people of Somalia and to support the Federal Government of Somalia to establish security, stability and prosperity in the country in this new period,” it said.

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