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You would then have an approximate equivalent of what has happened in the modern Muslim world. In Congress and in the broader foreign-policy establishment today, Saudi Arabia is a political football. Recent Saudi behavior has also been poor, whether it is arresting bloggers such as Raif Badawi, murdering columnist and former intelligence operative Jamal Khashoggi, or killing civilians in Yemen.

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For its part, Iran is worse. She is right. Today, the most vociferous criticism of Saudi radicalism is directed against Saudi activities in the period before rather than in more recent years.

Turkey's Africa Strategy Threatens to Breed Islamist Extremism | National Review

Saudi Arabia and its allies the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain may be authoritarian, but they do not promote and no longer tolerate radicalism. Qatar is predictable but not creative: Whenever there is conflict within a Muslim society, it bankrolls the most extreme elements, be they in Gaza, Libya, or Syria. Turkey plays a much longer game. Erdogan has become perhaps the most frequent non-African leader to visit the continent.

Turkey also inaugurated regular Turkey — Africa summits, twice in Istanbul and once in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Between and , Turkey almost quadrupled the number of embassies and consulates it had on the continent.

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If North Africa and the Maghreb are thrown into the mix, Turkish trade was more than double even that figure. Seldom did a high-level Turkish official visit Africa without a delegation of businessmen in tow. It was a strategy that paid off in Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania. State-owned Turkish Airlines leapt ahead of competitors and now ranks second in the number of cities served in Africa. This was part of a deliberate strategy to make Istanbul a hub for Africa. As Turkey has invested in Africa, it has sought to promote itself and more-extreme Islamist interpretations at the expense of the West and the post — World War II liberal order.

That Africa can trust only Turkey is a constant theme of Turkish rhetoric. As for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, according to Cevik, the founder of modern Turkey was the source of inspiration for Africans against the colonialists and oppressors. Leveraging Islam For Erdogan, Islam has been a foundation on which to build ties. We have to help them develop their system of educating Muslim clergy who will not only serve the people but also teach the people the true Islam in its purest form.

It is also a major front for al-Qaeda and for violent extremism more broadly.

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By , the group boasted 10, volunteers available for international missions, mostly in Africa. The IHH agenda has become the rule rather than the exception for Turkish aid. Turkish organizations have distributed aid in northern Nigeria, for example, where Boko Haram has launched a debilitating insurgency and terrorist campaign. At the same time, Turkey appeared to distribute arms covertly to the Islamist radicals.

After the break between Erdogan and ally-turned-adversary Fethullah Gulen in , the Turkish government demanded of African countries to close Gulen-affiliated schools and expel his followers.

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Erdogan was open about this agenda. In June , the parliament created the Maarif Foundation, a pro-AKP organization coordinated by the education and foreign ministries. It is the sole entity authorized to provide a Turkish education abroad. Turkish newspapers provided regular updates on the progress of the Maarif Foundation in assuming control of Gulen schools abroad.

By April , the program had brought 16, students from countries to Turkey on full scholarships. Pro-AKP newspapers ran glowing stories about African participants who converted to Islam while in the program. Beyond training and indoctrinating students, Turkey is also seeking to create a new generation of military officers on the continent.

Turkey's Relations with the Arab Countries

SADAT, a Turkish Islamist paramilitary group founded by Erdogan adviser Adnan Tanriverdi, which has provided financial and military support to Hamas , also provided training so that, in the future, Turkey will have a cadre of Islamist paramilitary soldiers on whom it can call as it supports various movements on the African continent. Today, Turkey is doing the very same thing, trying to radicalize a generation of Africans through a combination of aid, anti-Western propaganda, religious indoctrination, and military training.

If they limit their discussions to Turkey, however, they will miss the larger picture. What Saudi Arabia was to Islamic extremism across the Arab world in the late 20th century, Turkey could be to Africa in the 21st. More articles. Previous articles. Most Popular. By David French. Turkey has not ignored the tiny port nation of Djibouti, either, making modest investments. Nonetheless, Saudi countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt remain agitated by Turkish moves in the area amid an ongoing international struggle for influence in the region. Tiny Url.

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