Military training at Qatar Special Forces Command from Turkish National Defense Ministry

Excursus: Turkey's Military Engagement Abroad

by Hürcan Aslı Aksoy

December 16, 2020

Military Bases

Location Number of troops Purpose of the base Year
Northern Cyprus 30,000–40,000 According to the Treaty of Guarantee (1960), Turkey is a guarantor power for Cyprus, together with Greece and the United Kingdom. In 1974, Turkey undertook unilateral military action by claiming the rights and security of Turkish Cypriots. Ankara since claims that it is ensuring the security of the northern part of the island – the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – which is recognized only by Turkey. Moreover, Turkey considers its military presence in Cyprus as a necessity for the security of the Anatolian homeland. The military base is the oldest and largest Turkish base abroad. Ankara also plans to build a naval base in Northern Cyprus. 1974
Qatar 3,000–5,000 Turkey’s first military base in the Middle East. The mission is to support the enhancement of Qatar’s defense capabilities and to intensify military cooperation. The highest-ranking officer in the mission is a brigadier general. The Turkish military has trainers and special operations forces in addition to air and naval units. The base will also contribute to counter-terrorism and international peacekeeping operations. In 2018, Turkey and Qatar also signed an agreement for Turkey to establish a naval base in northern Qatar. 2015
Somalia 2,000 The main objective is capacity-building. Camp TURKSOM in Mogadishu trains the officers and soldiers of the Somali Armed Forces and is helping the Somali government to build a national military force. This military base also provides the necessary equipment for the country’s coast guard and navy. The mission can be extended to foreign internal defense if the rules of engagement are renewed. 2017

Sources:

Türkiye’nin hangi ülkelerde askeri üssü var? (In which countries does Turkey have military bases?), Euronews, 17 January 2020

Türkiye’nin hangi ülkede, kaç askeri var, hangi gerekçelerle bulunuyor? (How many soldiers does Turkey have, in which countries and for what reasons?), Evrensel Gazetesi, 18 November 2020


Defense Cooperation

Location Number of troops Background of the cooperation Year
Albania 24 military personnel The Albanian-Turkish military cooperation agreement was signed in 1997 and enabled Turkey to rebuild Albania’s only naval base, Pasha Liman (Vlorë). This agreement granted Turkey’s navy the right to use the base. In February 2020, Albania and Turkey signed the Defense Cooperation Plan to strengthen and intensify their interactions in the areas of security and defense. There are 24 military personnel stationed at the base. 1997
Azerbaijan In 2010, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed the Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Support. It obliges both countries to assist each other using “all possibilities” in the case of a military attack on either by a third country. Turkey and Azerbaijan regularly hold joint military exercises. 2010
Sudan In 2017, under Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Turkey and Sudan signed bilateral deals to boost military cooperation and build a docking facility for naval and civilian vessels in the port city of Suakin. After the ouster of President al-Bashir from power, it remains unclear how the transitional government will treat existing agreements with Turkey. 2017

Sources:

Özgen, Cenk 2020: Türkiye’nin denizasiri askeri üs kurma girisimleri: Tespitler ve gelecege yönelik öneriler (Turkey’s initiatives to establish overseas military bases: Determinations and suggestions for the future), in: Güvenlik Bilimleri Dergisi, November 2019, Vol. 8 No: 2, pp. 381-408

Türkiye’nin hangi ülkede, kaç askeri var, hangi gerekçelerle bulunuyor? (How many soldiers does Turkey have, in what countries and for what reasons?), Evrensel Gazetesi, 18 November 2020


Military Operations/Forward Operating Bases

Location Number of troops Purpose Year
Iraq approx. 2,500 Turkey has the highest number of military bases in Iraq. The Turkish military conducts operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) forces in northern Iraq. Thanks to bilateral agreements signed with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Turkey operates dozens of military bases in and around Bashiqa, training Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni Arab fighters. However, the Iraqi government in Bagdad has reiterated that Turkey must suspend its military operations on Iraqi soil. 1992
Syria 5,000–10,000 The Turkish military carries out reconnaissance and intelligence work as well as trains and equips the local partners. The bases are mainly used to fight the Kurdish-led forces operating under the Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey has more than 10 observation posts around the Syrian province of Idlib. 2016
Libya N/A Turkish troops train and advise the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. They also supply intelligence. Turkish troops are under the command of a two-star general, who is currently the highest-ranking officer deployed in a trans-border military activity. 2019

Sources:

Özgen, Cenk 2020: Türkiye’nin denizasiri askeri üs kurma girisimleri: Tespitler ve gelecege yönelik öneriler (Turkey’s initiatives to establish overseas military bases: Determinations and suggestions for the future), in: Güvenlik Bilimleri Dergisi, November 2019, Vol. 8 No: 2, pp. 381-408

Türkiye’nin hangi ülkede, kaç askeri var, hangi gerekçelerle bulunuyor? (How many soldiers does Turkey have, in which countries and for what reasons?), Evrensel Gazetesi, 18 November 2020


NATO, UN, and EU Missions

Location Number of troops Purpose Year
Afghanistan 648 As a partner in the Resolute Support Mission (UN Resolution 2189), Turkey participates in the Train Advise Assists Command – Capital military formation and keeps the Hamid Karzai Afghanistan International Airport secure. 2002
Kosovo 321 Turkey is a member of KFOR Force that serves to maintain safety and security for all individuals and communities in Kosovo. 1999
Bosnia and Herzegovina 242 Turkey acts as a partner country in Operation Althea of the EU to support the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their efforts to maintain a safe and secure environment in the country. 2004

Source:

Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri'nin Barışı Destekleme Harekâtlarına Katkıları (The contribution of Turkish Armed Forces in peace keeping missions), in: Republic of Turkey, the Ministry of National Defense General Staff


Turkey’s UN Peacekeeping Missions

Turkey is a regular contributor to various UN peacekeeping missions. According to the goals and mandate of the specific mission, Turkish personnel participate in missions aiming at protecting civilians, monitoring the cessation of hostilities, helping to ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations, as well as promoting security, stability, and respect for human rights. According to the latest UN report (30 October 2020), Turkey has 128 military and police personnel in the following UN missions:

Mission Code Country Personnel Types (group) Sum of total Year
UNIFIL Lebanon Staff Officer 2 2006
Contingent Troops 92
UNMIK Kosovo Experts on Mission 1 2011
Police 1
UNAMID Darfur/West Sudan Police 19 2006
UNMISS South Sudan Police 13 2005*

* first Turkish contribution to UNMIS, the preceding mission to UNMISS

Source:

Turkey’s UN peace keeping missions