Amid UAE rivalry, Turkey to open first Africa military base in Mogadishu

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Turkish soldiers sit on a tank driving to Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016. Turkey shelled Kurdish militia fighters in Syria on August 26 on the second day of a major military operation inside the country, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing in jihadist-held territory. Turkey's army backed by international coalition air strikes launched an operation involving fighter jets and elite ground troops to drive Islamic State jihadists out of the border area. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

NAIROBI – Turkey has set up its first African base in the Somali capital to train the fractured Somali army after more than two decades of war amid deepening rivalry with the United Arab Emirates which has taken a similar approach in the horn of Africa nation in a bid to outshine Turkey.

The 400-meter base equipped with modern military hardware is parts of efforts by the Turkish government to strengthen its country’s influence on the continent.

The new base is parts of several Somalia projects announced by the Turkish president Racep Erdogan who visited Mogadishu in June. During his visit, Erdogan also opened a new Turkish embassy in Somalia’s capital.

Turkey is locked in a contest for Somali commercial and military supremacy with UAE which has taken a similar approach towards Somalia.

Around 200 Turkish military officers will be deployed to the base in Somalia in the first stage to train 10,500 Somalian soldiers, according to Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper.

Turkey has been the greatest ally for Somalia since it sent massive aid to Somalia during the 2011 devastating famine that killed hundreds of thousands of Somalis followed by massive reconstruction and development projects the Turkish government has undertaken across Mogadishu.

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