Erdogan on new Africa tour to push Turkey’s influence

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cuts a cake offered by reporters on his 65th birthday shortly before departing for a five-day African tour, in Istanbul, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 27 February 2018

Erdogan on new Africa tour to push Turkey’s influence

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday embarked on a five-day tour of west Africa in a bid to ramp up Turkey’s growing influence throughout the continent.
Just two months ago, Erdogan made his first trip to Sudan, where he met President Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), before continuing on to Tunisia and Chad.
Turkey has scented an opportunity to build influence in Africa through delivering aid, setting up transport links and offering its expertise in construction.
“With each passing day, our cooperation deepens in the areas of tourism, culture, trade, defense and education. God willing, we will take this further in the future,” he told reporters before leaving for Algiers.
Turkey currently has 41 embassies in Africa, up from 12 in 2009, and wants to eventually have top-level representation in all 54 nations on the continent, state media said.
Flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, 49 percent of which is held by a sovereign wealth fund, has also expanded its network to reach 52 destinations in Africa, from Accra to Johannesburg.
An infrequent visitor to Europe as ties with the West strained, Erdogan has made repeated visits to Africa since becoming president in 2014.
In Algeria, all eyes will be on Erdogan’s expected meeting with ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80, who rarely appears in public.
Bouteflika, who has held office since 1999, suffered a mini-stroke in 2013 that affected his speech and mobility. The APS news agency said they would meet.
His trips to Mali and Mauritania will be the first-ever by a Turkish president, with security is likely to feature high on the agenda in Mali which is battling with a string of attacks and kidnappings by militant groups.
Last year, Erdogan visited Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania and has also made trips to Ethiopia, Uganda, and conflict-torn Somalia where Turkey has taken a lead in rebuilding efforts.
Aside from bolstering trade and political ties, a major priority for Erdogan has been to stamp out the influence of a network run by Fethullah Gulen, the exiled US-preacher whom Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Gulen, who denies ordering the putsch, has built up an educational network in Africa. But Erdogan says the continent has served as a center for “exploitation” by Gulen.


US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2019 US troops walk past a Turkish military vehicle during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

  • Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria

WASHINGTON: US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.
“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.
In addition to Pelosi and Schumer, the resolution was led by Representatives Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.
It also is backed by Senators Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Todd Young, a Republican member of that panel.
Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria.
Several sanctions bills were introduced in the Senate and House, supported by Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, before Trump said he would impose sanctions.
Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, and a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a cease-fire and halt its offensive. The measures — mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks — were less robust than financial markets had anticipated. Trump’s critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact, and the Turkish currency recovered.