Turkey's Erdogan to launch Africa tour with Algeria visit

Turkey's Erdogan to launch Africa tour with Algeria visit
Erdogan will discuss the Libyan conflict with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
3 min read
23 January, 2020
Turkey has expanded its influence in Africa during Erdogan's tenure [Getty]
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Algeria on Sunday, marking the first stop of an African tour as the Turkish premier attempts to expand his reach across the continent.

Erdogan will spend two days in Algiers before travelling onwards to Gambia and Senegal, local media reported. 

The trip comes at a particularly opportune moment as Ankara positions itself as a key intermediary in the Libyan conflict.

Elected in a much-protested vote last month, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was not invited to a key Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday but has nevertheless established Algeria as an important force in talks surrounding the conflict in neighbouring Libya.

Tebboune on Thursday convened with foreign ministers from Egypt, Chad and Tunisia in Algiers to discuss the conflict. Diplomats from Sudan and Niger also attended, as did German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Ankara and Moscow together brokered a fragile truce between Libya's warring parties last week, but world powers continue to meet for discussions on how to facilitate a lasting ceasefire and political process to bring the conflict to a close.

After meeting with Tebboune, Erdogan will travel to the Gambia and Senegal, where he will discuss economic cooperation and other bilateral issues with Gambian President Adama Barrow and Senegalese leader Macky Sall.

The two will also discuss the fight against terrorism, with Turkish media reports indicating Erdogan will focus on eradicating the influence of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup attempt.

Gulen's Hizmet movement opened scores of schools and universities in more than 160 countries, including more than a dozen in Senegal that Ankara successfully pressured Dakar to shutter in 2018.

Critics consider the cleric's educational endeavours to be a stepping stone in cultivating political and economic influence in Turkey and across the world.

The Turkish president's tour comes at a time when Ankara looks to expand its influence further across the African continent.

Turkey already has strong ties in the Horn of Africa region, particularly in Somalia which Erdogan said earlier this week had invited Ankara to explore for oil off its coast. Ankara already has a strong military and economic influence in Mogadishu.

Turkish trade with Africa increased by 12 percent last year, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said last week.

Ankara is keen to increase that figure and ink agreements with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Pekcan told state news agency Anadolu.

Turkey also recently signed an agreement with Niger to conduct mineral exploration activities in the West African nation.

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