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Turkey takes lead in rebuilding Somalia

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 Emerging regional power leading by example 

Analysts say Ankara’s humanitarian and peace-building drive is part of a campaign to bolster its status as an emerging regional power.

At the conference, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized other nations for lacking Turkey’s on-the-ground presence in Somalia.

"Without living there you cannot devise the correct policies and you cannot help. I invite the international community to open representative offices," he told delegates on Friday.

Prime Minister Erdogan has led by example. He made an official visit to Mogadishu last August, becoming the first non-African leader to set foot in the city in two decades.

Three months later Turkey opened an embassy in Somalia and then in March this year the national carrier Turkish Airlines became the first international airline to operate commercial flights to Mogadishu in 20 years.

“It’s the new emerging imperial spirit,” says Asli Aydintasbas, a foreign affairs commentator at the daily Milliyet newspaper. “It’s part of the global role they want to play, in order to be a regional hegemon.”

Under the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) headed by Erdogan, Turkey has garnered international prestige as a Muslim-majority country with a functioning multi-party democracy and surging economy.

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