Turkey and Atmis are currently competing for control over the Mogadishu Port.

The Turkish Navy Ship F514 has arrived at the Mogadishu Sea Port after Somalia and Turkey signed a defense and economic agreement in Mogadishu on April 23, 2024.

African Union peacekeepers in Somalia refuse to compromise the security of the vital commercial infrastructure as they hand over more responsibilities to the Somali National Army. The Mogadishu seaport plays a crucial role in securing the capital and disrupting supplies that sustain Al-Shabaab warfare.

The port is a battleground for national, regional, and global interests in Somalia. The Turks seek economic benefits, peacekeepers prioritize security, Somalis aim for business opportunities, and the Shabaab use it to fund their operations.

Officers from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) highlight the strategic importance of the seaport for the Somali government and the AU force as a critical supply route and an emergency exit route. The port is a prime target for the Shabaab due to its significance.

Recent reports indicate an increase in vessel traffic at the port. It presently receives around 10 to 15 ships weekly, a significant improvement from previous security conditions when only three ships docked per week.

“The seaport remains a top target for Al Shabaab in Mogadishu, so our forces must remain alert and ready to repel any potential attacks,” stated Lt Marcelino Bukenya Muwonge, Intelligence Officer at the Seaport Forward Operating Base manned by Ugandan troops.

Located 4km east of Mogadishu airport, the port serves as a commercial hub and a crucial facility within the city. Turkish company Albayrak Group has operated the port since 2014, with a revenue-sharing agreement with the Somali Treasury. Turkey’s recent agreements with Somalia include a defense pact signed in February 2024.

The Ugandan contingent under Atmis is mentoring the Somali Navy Force and Coast Guard, providing training for coastal operations. Despite Turkish involvement in port operations, security measures remain paramount for all parties involved.

The port entrance is secured by Somali Police Force and Atmis personnel, with Turkish and Somali intelligence officers assisting with security within the facility. Somali forces are responsible for ship security, while Atmis manages control points and towers.

Critics argue that the multitude of stakeholders with different agendas and languages often leads to conflicts. Captain Aggrey Kalanzi, Seaport FOB Commander, admits that communication breakdowns are common due to language barriers.

Al-Shabaab has attempted to exploit the security gaps and diverse interests at the port to smuggle in weapons and supplies. In a recent incident in September 2023, Atmis intercepted three containers containing military equipment en route from Yemen, including drones, sniper rifles, and other warfare supplies.

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