News / Africa

Turkey Reinforces 'Hands Off' Policy on Mali

Ali Babacan, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2013. Ali Babacan, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2013.
x
Ali Babacan, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2013.
Ali Babacan, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The Turkish foreign ministry has criticized the ongoing French operation in Mali. The public criticism comes as Turkey is increasingly seeing West Africa as a region of interest economically and diplomatically.

Ankara has been increasing voicing concerns regarding the intervention by French forces against an Islamic insurgency in Mali.

Northern Mali fell under rebel control after a March military coup in Bamako triggered a Tuareg-led rebel offensive that seized the north and split the West African nation in two.

Turkish foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal questions the timing and whether it offers a solution to the situation.

"We wish to see the situation in Mali to change to a better perspective in the framework of the political will of its people, such as a democratic elections and a free parliament. In that sense we are also not favorable to unilateral action before trying other political methods or other avenues," said Unal.

The Turkish foreign ministry points out the United Nations Security Council resolution on Mali sanctioned only an African led intervention. Ankara's ambivalence over France's military intervention is part of a growing rivalry between Paris and Ankara over West Africa, according to Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish daily Taraf.

"I think this reflects some of the competition between Turkey and France. Prime Minister Erdogan just a few days before the Mali story broke out was in Niger, blasting at the former colonial power and trying to say that Turkey will not be like that," said Idiz. "There is a scramble for Africa and Turkey is very much part of this. It has opened quite a large number of embassies across Africa. So its clear that Turkey does see itself as a potent power."

In the past few years Turkey has opened 31 embassies across Africa, including one in Mali in 2010. The Turkish government has declared the continent as an economic priority. Since its initiation of the policy back in 2003 it has more than quadrupled its exports to the continent to more than $10 billion. And, earlier this month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Gabon, Niger and Senegal. Previously, he headed to Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and held talks in the Republic of South Africa regarding Turkey's Africa opening.

Turkish foreign Ministry spokesman Unal says it will pursue its concerns over the situation in Mali through the Organization of Islamic Conference, the OIC."

"We discussed possible steps to be taken by OIC on Mali; I expect that the issue of Mali will be one of the agenda items to be discussed in the next OIC summit in Cairo," he said.

Observers point out that with Mali's neighbors supporting France's intervention, Ankara may not find too much support among West African members. But diplomatic columnist Idiz says Ankara is likely to find backing from Arab nations at February's OIC summit.

"Turkish ambivalence is probably not too different to some Arab countries because of the Islamic dimension in all this," said Idiz. "Given that Mali is a predominantly Islamic country that there is a western intervention all of these factor in to the Islamic sensibilities given, this antipathy in the Islamic world to western countries intervening in Islamic countries, so that is part of it."

Analysts say Ankara's ambivalence over France's intervention is likely to raise eyebrows among its western allies, all of who are strongly supporting it. But in Turkey's pro government media the question is increasingly being posed why those allies can back an intervention in Mali against an Islamic insurgency, but fail to do so in Syria.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid