Turkey’s increased activity in Yemen raises alarming security concerns

May 11, 2020

Turkey has been increasing its activities in Yemen, particularly in the coastal areas of the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, as per media reports. This surge in Turkish activity in the country has heightened security concerns across the area. As per a report by The Arab Weekly, Turkey’s increased activities in Yemen are being funded and supported by Qatar through a few local political leaders of the country affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The media report also stated that as of now Turkish activity is concentrated in three coastal areas of the country – Shabwah (governorate of Yemen), Socotra, and al-Makha district in Taizz Governorate.

Reportedly, with the help of local division of the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey is leading a greater political role in the southern provinces of Yemen. This is also helping in the increase in the influence of Turkish charities such as Humanitarian Relief Organisation (IHH) which are working under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Furthermore, the Islah (Reform) party, founded in 1990, has been assisting the Turkish institutions and government in accessing local regions in Yemen. As per Yemeni political analyst Mahmud al-Tahir, Turkey has interests in encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood in the Yemini region.

The media report also stated that officials and ministers associated with the Muslim Brotherhood made several visits to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, meeting leaders of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?anin an attempt to persuade them to be more actively investing in Yemen.

Furthermore, this growing presence of Turkey in Yemen has raised concerns for Egypt as well in connection with the security in the Suez Canal and the Red sea. According to a Yemeni political analyst, aiming the Red seaports and ports close to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in an attempt to put pressure on Egypt.

Earlier in April, the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-governance southern provinces of Yemen and its key port city of Aden. Turkey raised objections against the move by the UAE-backed STC leading to a war of words erupted between the two countries. In a statement released by the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, the country expressed continued support to the peace efforts led by the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Yemen through inclusive dialogue and providing humanitarian assistance to the country. Meanwhile, the Yemeni government under the leadership of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi also rejected the STC’s move.

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