Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said on Thursday that Turkey’s approach to Somalia has helped change the outlook of the international community over the last 20 years.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman while attending the İstanbul Conference on Somalia, under the theme “Preparing Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015,” Prime Minister Ali explained that Somalia is currently at a critical stage, moving away from lawlessness and instability into the new era of peace and stability, as well as making security gains against al-Shabaab, a Somali-based militant group with ties to al-Qaeda. Recalling that Turkey at one time came to Somalia’s rescue by infusing resources, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and transportation into the struggling nation – Turkey is the first county to operate passenger flights to Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu in more than 20 years. Ali said short-term fixes will not get Somalia where it needs to be and that is where Turkey is assisting in the development of a long-term vision.
“What happened in Somalia over the last 20 years was a total breakdown of the rule of law and institutions. Unless you have basic, robust institutions and judicial efficiency you won’t be able to build an economy,” the prime minister stated, adding: “We need to build basic administrative, social and economic institutions. This will take a while, but still the economy needs a push.” Ali further emphasized the importance of investments made in the country, largely by institutions and businesses based in Turkey.
Prime Minister Ali praised Turkey’s efforts and said Somali security forces and the army could be trained by Turks to improve the security in the country. He said: “You cannot just wish for security to come, you have to pull together the two things, a long-term development plan and security, in order to have a development vision.” Responding to questions about Iran’s influence on al-Shabaab and how that would affect Turkey’s efforts to promote stability in Somalia, he responded that he does not believe Iran has any connection with the group, emphasizing that Turkey’s main goal is to avoid killings and conflict in the country while facilitating the reconciliation of different groups and building reliable security institutions.
Pointing out that Somalia is a rich country with the longest coastline in Africa, more than 9 million acres of fertile land and resources such as oil, gas, uranium and iron, Ali said: “We have to build educational institutions so that we have human capital, a skilled labor force. Turkey got it right, within eight months they gave more than 2,000 scholarships to students from Somalia to go to universities in Turkey. It’s unheard of in Somalia in the last 10 years.” He also stressed the importance of cooperation between different groups in the country and the equal share of resources to create an environment of wellbeing across Somalia.