By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. In less than two decades, Turkey increased its diplomatic presence in Africa from a few missions to almost every African state. It also increased investment from 100 million to several billion dollars within the period.

2. From the Sahel through Central Africa to the Horn, many African capitals are hosting determined diplomats from Ankara with eyes widely opened for economic opportunities that send some benefits back home—as all diplomats do.

3. In the current scramble and focus on Africa, Turkey has been mentioned to be part of the “Middle Powers” who are establishing a foothold. Others in this category are Israel, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran among others. These are set apart from the great powers: the United States, China, Russia, France, the UK and others. In the former category, therefore, Turkey has proven to be potent concerning its presence in Africa.

4. In recent years, the Eurasian power has established security relations in multiple African countries. It has offered military support in Libya and Somalia. Its growing arms industry has growing clients in the continent.

5. The country has also used soft power effectively. Thousands of scholarships and cultural infrastructure have been sponsored across Africa. Ghana has a magnificent national mosque, designed in Ottoman architecture, and financed by Turkey.

6. And so what?

7. With many powers making efforts to establish themselves in Africa, it appears Ankara has made some gains that are worth noticing.

8. It is for this reason that the current deal between Mogadishu and Ankara to protect Africa’s longest coast should be handled meticulously by the latter. If not, it could undercut decades of efforts and gains in the continent.

9. How?

10. Admittedly, when Ethiopia signed the deal with Somaliland to access the coast, Somalia became a clear underdog in the inevitable dispute that followed. This, therefore, makes its efforts to seek military assistance more rational from a realist point of view.

11. However, with the AU and regional actors pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crises, the deal between Ankara and Mogadishu could be problematic. States that may be more “sympathetic” to Ethiopia could have their relations with Turkey affected.

12. Also, Somalia could see the Turkish naval presence as a “big stick” it wielded during negotiations. This could protract the tensions and even escalate them.

13. Way forward?

14. Instead of appearing to support one side, Ankara could leverage the years of ties it has built in the continent to help resolve the crisis. This could be done by partnering with the AU and IGAD to find a common ground for the parties.

15. Many more…

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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