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"Turks in the East!"

It is expected that we will hear this phrase a lot more in the near future. The reason is that we have seen that the steps in Turkey's Africa policy are being taken more seriously when other global players least expect, on the other side. Türkiye, the advocate of equal political and economic gains, humane living, and moving forward together on the East African coast, is cutting neocolonial ties gradually. It commences first with Somalia, then with Djibouti. Thus, it is a piece of evidence to see that the dynamics of the region are changing rapidly.

 


President Erdoğan, who did not turn his back on the region during the Horn of Africa crisis and drew the international agenda to the difficult situation in East Africa, is undoubtedly the architect of today's gains. It was not easy for a post-Ottoman country, which had to waste time with its own domestic political crises and border security issues, to re-establish its declining and literally ended relations with Africa and to consolidate them in many regions as it is today. It was perhaps the most difficult to gain a serious position among the former colonial powers, which had tied most African countries and their resources to themselves with their past colonial ties, and the rising "third world allies" of the new global system with their abundant capital.

 

Türkiye-Somalia's cooperation started in the fields of humanitarian aid and development during the reconstruction process of Somalia and continued with joint steps to address the terrorism problem in the country. This partnership and cooperation based on mutual gains tunnel into its latest fruit with the signing of a defense agreement.

 


It is not possible to see this agreement independently from the current crises in the region. Not long ago, Ethiopia signed the MoU, a direct agreement with Somaliland, a region within the Somali Federation, in exchange for access to the ocean. This was illustrated as a new attack on the territorial integrity of Somalia, which has long been fighting against the terrorist organization al-Shabaab and is gradually moving towards victory. For Ethiopia, with a population of over 120 million, the loss of maritime access after being separated from Eritrea was a major disadvantage. This is precisely why the Turkey-Somalia Defense Cooperation Agreement, which has long been talked about in the region and which Somalia reacted strongly against and the Turkish Foreign Ministry supported Somalia, has become more important.

 

In Somalia, the contemporary period experience shows that when you visit Somalia, you can see how much Turkey's footprint has increased from trade to the service sector. There are Turkish’s in the port of Mogadishu, and they are who run the airport. Besides, Türkiye's construction sector is building many areas in Somalia. In such an environment, this agreement is also important for Turkey, which has increased its influence in vast countries in Africa, which indicates its influence once again in terms of power with global actors.

 


Turkey's African adventure started with humanitarian aid-based processes and continues with development such as investments and trade, moreover, it has expanded its cooperation which has enabled Türkiye to be present in a larger arena with the developments in the defense industry. So much so that Türkiye has become a country that approved its word in Libya, a country that can end the war in Tigray, and a country that shows its influence again at a time when Somalia is trying to get rid of terrorism and prevent it from shining in the Gulf.

 

In addition, news of a new agreement came from Djibouti. Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with Djibouti. Djibouti is a country known for being the gateway to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, as well as for the military bases for various countries such as France, the US, Japan, and China on its territory, while it has paid serious of money to Djibouti for the services. Turkey's new agreement with Djibouti, which is neighboring Somalia, is very important for the region.

 

We need to focus on what we can expect from now on. First, the region is characterized by various tensions. The Egypt-Ethiopia crisis with its water and Renaissance dam (GERD) issue, the civil war in Sudan, the Ethiopia-Somaliland issue, and even the Somalia-Kenya territorial waters border issue stand out as the unending crises of this region. Türkiye, with its multilateral and win-win policy in many regions, will be a country that will be invited to the table to solve the problems of the region. Its contribution to Somalia's reconstruction and integration into the international system will continue. On the other hand, Türkiye will be a stabilizing factor in the region against some Gulf countries whose interests are contrary to the stabilization of Somalia. According to Somali media reports, the agreement stipulates that Türkiye will receive 30 percent of the revenues from Somalia's exclusive economic zone. In addition, Türkiye will fight illegal fishing in Somali waters and it will be built and equip the Somali navy. All these steps will result in Türkiye showing its difference from other countries in its model of presence in Africa and signing new collaborations with this model.

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