Turkey’s silent wars of influence in Africa

by Khaled Hamoud Alshareef

On a recent visit to Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said, “What my African brothers have longed for years are true friends who respect their history, culture, traditions, languages” and that Turkey “wants to be a true friend of Africa”.

Erdogan views Turkey as a second coming of the Ottomans’ global power with global reach, which is why he pursues a foreign policy agenda that emulates his view of the Neo-Ottoman Turkey.

Erdogan-led Turkish government has thus worked to increase engagement across the world.

Turkey often digs its claws in less-developed regions such as Africa and Latin America. In Africa, for example, Turkey now has 41 embassies, which were hardly 12 in 2003.

In 2017, Turkey opened its largest military base overseas in Somalia’s Mogadishu.

Turkey started joint military training exercises with Somali National Army soldiers.

The state-run Turkish Airlines now flies 52 routes from Istanbul to 33 different African countries, when it only flew to 14 in 2011.

Turkey has increased bilateral trade with Africa five-fold from 2003 to over $20 billion in 2018. Leaders within the African Union (AU) have stated that Erdogan has “won hearts and minds” through his “humanitarian assistance”, which in reality are bribes to the officials and the leaders.

Meanwhile, Turkey is pushing its version of Islamic extremism under the disguise of charities support for Muslim communities.

Africa’s 54 countries is what Erdogan views as his future areas of influence winch led to increased engagement across Africa as a way for Turkey to achieve greater goal.

Khaled Homoud Alshareef holds PhD in Business and he earned Masters in Philosophy. He often writes about Islamism, Islamist factions and modern Terrorism. He tweets under @0khalodi0.