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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid