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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs