“Accra complex will be a house of wisdom and knowledge,” when Turkish President Creep Taxpaying Erdogan said that among dozens of Ghanaian and addressed them enthusiastically, he was referring to the “National Mosque”, which he visited during his tour in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, in March 1, 2016. In front of the largest mosque in West Africa, built by Turkish engineers in the style of classic Ottoman architecture; Erdogan took pictures next to some citizens of the community, with the Turkish and Ghanaian flags behind him.
But at a time when this mosque was celebrated, which gave Accra a new Islamic landmark, fears were rising – especially in Europe – about the relative increase in the number of huge mosques built by the Turkish government in the past years on the brown continent, and because of the activity of Turkish institutions in supporting many projects Development and humanitarian efforts, as part of the efforts to develop the official Turkish policy of “opening up to Africa”, which began in 2005, fears that seem logical in view of Europe’s desire to continue France’s control over the west of the continent and ensure the dominance of major British companies in the south.
Although the Turkish openness to Africa crystallized in 1998, when Ankara developed an approved plan of action to penetrate the continent, Erdogan’s assumption of the prime minister ship in 2003 constituted the most important stage for the official launch towards the brown continent , and with the advent of 2005, which was named “The Year of Africa” by President Former British Minister Tony Blair, Ankara had been given a good opportunity by appointing it as an observer member of the African Union, and the relationship between Ankara and most of the countries of the continent witnessed further rapprochement when the African Union announced that Turkey was a strategic partner in 2008, and by relying on this expanded network of relations rose The number of Turkish embassies in Africa increased from 12 in 2002 to 42 this year, the number of trade cooperation councils increased from 6 to 46, and Turkish Airlines increased its flights to the countries of the continent from 4 to 60 flights.
At the beginning of its entry into the continent, Ankara focused on providing humanitarian aid and sponsoring development projects, on the one hand; It opens a school in East Africa, and on the other hand it opens a hospital in its west, before it proceeds towards strengthening economic exchange and bilateral trade relations with various African countries, as it started building airports and dams, and established service projects that Africans are very excited about due to their lack of it. Exports increased Turkey has gradually diversified the continent, including exports of steel, chemicals, chemical products, cars, clothing, agricultural products and various machinery. In a country like Nigeria, which is Turkey’s largest trading partner on the continent, the bilateral trade volume in 2019 reached $2.3 billion, and while oil and liquefied natural gas accounted for 90% of Turkey’s imports from Nigeria, oilseeds, fruits, sesame, coal and cocoa accounted for most of Nigeria’s imports from Nigeria. Turkey, in addition to steel, furniture, building materials and some food products.
Later, Ankara slowly began adding military dimensions to its bilateral relations with African countries. Erdogan took advantage of his multiple visits to the continent to promote his country’s defense industries , and urged the various countries there to buy Turkish weapons and military products, especially advanced drones, helicopters, warships and vehicles. The armored vehicle is equipped with missile systems, howitzers, and others. Not only did the Turkish president do that, but also included his country in the list of foreign countries that have military bases on African lands. Turkey opened a military base in Somalia in 2017 to train local soldiers there. https://www.youtube.com/embed/BoVRwfFkY00?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
As for West Africa in particular; Ankara followed the policy of soft incursion at first before adding to it the military dimension . For example , Turkey signed a deal to explore for minerals in three fields in southwestern Niger in January 2020, and then did so a few months later (July of the same year). Signing a cooperation agreement with the Nigerian government in the field of military training, to pave the way for its quest to establish a military base there, which will certainly anger the French, given that any Turkish military presence in the geographical heart of one of Libya’s closest neighbors will enhance the influence of the Turks not only in the west, but also in the north where the Libyan conflict, where the base will work for the center of A potential supply for Turkey’s activities in Libya, where the Turks could use it more quickly as a military repository of “weapons, soldiers, and surveillance systems” to be sent to Libya rather than a longer distance from Turkish territory.
On the 10th of September 2020 I landed A Turkish plane is carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Republic of Mali. The Turkish minister is the first high-ranking foreign official to arrive in the country, one month after the August 18 coup that toppled former President Ibrahim Boubacar Kaita. “Oglu” coincided with the visit of US Secretary of State “Mike Pompeo” to Sudan as part of Washington’s efforts to urge Khartoum at the time to speed up the normalization of relations with Israel; The Turkish minister’s tour, which included other countries in West Africa such as “Guinea Bissau” and “Senegal”, irritated Ankara’s opponents in the region, who considered the Turkish position a quick step that legitimizes the financial coup, especially when Davutoglu met with members of the “National Committee to Save the People “Formed by the elements of the armed forces that carried out the coup, as well as the approval of the Turkish Parliament on the seventh of October to extend the mandate to participate in the United Nations Mission and its operations in Mali and the Central African Republic for an additional year.
The Turkish position calling for entering into a dialogue with the “transitional authority” in Mali represents a sharp contrast with the French position condemning this coup, which represented a strong blow to France’s military and intelligence operations in the African Sahel, although strengthening economic and political relations in a country rich in natural resources may have role in attracting the Turks to move quickly towards Mali, the Turkish position was considered by the French challenge to them, in a country like Niger , for example , has sought Turkey as we have said to undermine the commercial dominance of France ‘s nuclear energy Areva in the field of mining, where French has the share of 63% of eligibility The operation of uranium mines there, and also began to intensify the diplomacy of traditional aid and relief through a shipment of 6 tons of medical aid to confront “Covid-19” sent by Ankara to the country.
Paris then views any Turkish move in West Africa as a danger capable of spoiling its economic and geopolitical interests there. Mali, Mauritania and Niger), the African and the West in general, and it primarily because of the French insistence on maintaining the right of military intervention and logistics in the region under the pretext of what it describes as ” anti – terrorism “, lead Operation Serval since 2013 in Mali and Operation Barkhane since 2014 in the Sahel region. Therefore, many Africans believe that the expansion and sustainability of French military activity is matched by an almost inevitable continuation of corruption in the internal political classes of their countries, which contributes to the escalation of armed violence and exacerbates the security crisis that has led to thousands of civilians losing their lives in the escalating armed attacks, especially that violent groups operating There they take the fight against the French and Western presence in general as a permanent excuse to continue.
With regard to the French presence in the west of the continent, it may seem at first glance that Paris, which seeks to increase its military influence there, is working in the region in coordination with the United States, given that they are two forces engaged together in the fight against terrorism in West Africa, and because France depends primarily on American logistical and intelligence support , But what is happening on the ground shows that Paris prefers a strategy of unilateral action in the west of the continent, even if this comes at the expense of reducing the possibility of its incursion there, and the best example of this was what happened in July 2017, when the French presented a plan to the United Nations to establish an African regional security force. In the Sahel, a strength of five thousand fighters was set to form the forces of the group of Sahel nations known as (G5 Sahel Force), as the French request at the time was surprising and angered the Americans, who expected that Paris would consult them on the plan.
But this unilateral strategy was not, and most likely will not be, beneficial to the French, as their inability to resolve the security crisis both in the Sahel and in the West appeared despite their military expansion (the French military presence increased from 4,500 to 5,100 soldiers in February 2020), as armed operations are increasing Those French forces came to prevent them in Western countries, and their territory began to expand in the region, in conjunction with the current US administration and the international community taking several measures to reduce their presence there, such as reducing the budget of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the region, and the Pentagon reducing the number of American helicopters used for medical evacuation American and friendly forces injured in times of battle there.
In sum, the decline in US support led to the creation of an emerging trend towards establishing networks of influence there from new countries, which Turkey and some Gulf countries are currently benefiting from, but the Turkish efforts remain more consecutive and effective, as Ankara pledged to provide five million dollars in financial aid to efforts to “combat” Terrorism” carried out by the bloc of the five coastal countries, and signed its latest military agreements with Niger a few months ago, allowing bilateral cooperation from Libya to the West, and also tended to help Nigeria reduce the flow of weapons to armed groups such as “Boko Haram” in the northeast of the country or Militants targeting Nigerian oil and gas facilities in the south, where joint “Turkish-Nigerian” gangs are using Turkish ports as conduits for the shipment of arms to Nigeria at a time when Turkish authorities are trying to control this flow.
The issue of the joint Turkish-Nigerian gangs is one of the most important pillars for the claim of the French and some Western countries that Turkey’s policy in Africa “fuels terrorism”, at a time when Paris is looking at the Turkish incursion into the west of the continent, starting from investing in infrastructure projects, to building military bases the establishment of intelligence networks there, as a process of building a Turkish military empire on the continent; It also accuses Ankara of smuggling weapons across porous borders to support the “Boko Haram” organization and Al-Qaeda in the West, which is not based on any evidence, while the current phenomena and actions indicate the opposite.
Therefore, we can say that what is being raised about the “new Turkish colonization of West Africa” is closer to being a French propaganda than to the truth. While Ankara exports itself as a charitable force in support of the region, its ability to exercise its geopolitical influence in West Africa is still limited to the influence of other powers. The established stronghold there until now, despite its fluctuation at times, such as the United States, China and France. In fact, the Turkish position in front of the modern powers in the region such as Russia also remains limited, as the Russians continue to work in full swing to strengthen military-technical cooperation with the countries of the West of the continent, where Moscow has signed more than An agreement aimed at strengthening cooperation in the field of military and security affairs there.
So, despite the relatively slow Turkish penetration, the constant and radical French presence, and the recent Chinese and Russian interest in the region, the region appears as a pivotal future conflict station between Paris and Ankara, while the United States does not mind the growing presence of Ankara, most likely as it is a counter-force to the growing Chinese influence as well, and with The intensification of tensions between France on the one hand and Turkey on the other hand in North Africa. The West African will become an important and decisive conflict area to determine the new, most powerful player in the future in the upper half of the continent, the continent that experts consider the next and most important place for the game of global political influence.