Mogadishu (UM) – Even before the official results were published, President Farmaajo tweeted a message of congratulations to President Erdogan on his successful electoral victory. He also congratulated the Turkish people on their successful Parliamentary elections. While both are important, it would seem the President jumped the gun and allowed his own prejudices to lead his emotional response. The President of Somalia must be grateful to the government and people of Turkey for their unwavering support of Somalia and no doubt President Erdogan has played a personal role in this. However, President Erdogan, despite his political success, is not Turkey. The Somali government must separate Turkey from President Erdogan and the AK Party he leads if they want to enjoy long term relations.
There is no doubt that President Erdogan has been a strong supporter of Somalia. His personal assurances have brought Turkish investors and Turkish Airlines to Somalia, a place where no other investors have ventured yet despite its great natural resources. The direct monthly Turkish budgetary support of $2.5 million is also championed by President Erdogan and based on this alone the Somali people are truly grateful to him and his government. Yet, while it is crucial to continue building ties with the newly elected President and his Party, it is also important the Somali government does not shut the door on other Turkish political stakeholders.
The opposition Parties, despite their divisions, have proven that they can have an influence on Turkish politics and President Erdogan has not won by the large majority predicted by political commentators. It is therefore wise to understand Turkish history and engage all stakeholders in Ankara, including, the business community to have balanced relations for the long term.
President Erdogan’s success ensures Somalia has a person with whom the government has a close relationship with and understands as the head of an engaged and active emerging power. Yet, Turkey is not Erdogan alone. Turkey’s history shows that it is a state with multiple stakeholders which have and will govern at different times. Somalia must be ready to work with every Turkish leader and government, including, President Erdogan who deserves the Somali people’s praise and respect. A good lesson on this can be learnt from the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu which engages all political, religious and economic stakeholders in Somalia without hurting its relations with the government of President Farmajo.