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Turkiye a factor in rising anti-colonial sentiment in West Africa, says expert

August 3, 2023 at 5:07 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his visit of Anitkabir, founder of Republic of Turkiye, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s mausoleum, in Ankara, Turkiye on August 03, 2023 [Murat Kula – Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye’s long-standing anti-imperialist stance and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s famous motto “The world is bigger than five,” has been a factor in the rising anti-colonialist sentiment in West Africa, an expert said, Anadolu Agency reports.

Professor Enver Arpa, Director of the Regional Studies Institute of the Ankara Social Sciences University, spoke to Anadolu about the anti-colonial sentiment in West Africa, especially among the youth.

“President Erdogan, in his speeches, criticises the ongoing injustices in Africa and the brutal policies carried out during the colonial period. ‘The world is bigger than five’ is not a mere slogan, there is more to it than what is visible,” said Arpa, who formerly headed Middle East and Africa at state-run charity, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

The expert said the 54-nation strong Africa has no say in international platforms.

“Five countries can veto all decisions. This is actually a sign that African countries and other countries are not taken into account in these platforms. Turkiye is rebelling against this,” he said.

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Turkiye has paid more than just lip service for the development of Africa, the Professor said, highlighting multiple projects done by Turkish institutes on the continent.

Anti-France sentiments in the region

The Professor said there is growing dissent against French neo-colonialism in West African countries such as Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso.

“The new administrations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger declared that they would unite against France by fighting on the same side, if necessary.”

France eventually had to withdraw its troops from Mali.

Thanks to technology, Arpa said, the youth of the region became aware of both the potential in their country and the prosperity of other countries.

France increasingly losing its influence

After the coup in Niger, he said, the country’s uranium supply came to the spotlight, once again.

France has been buying uranium to run its nuclear power plants from its former colony for nearly half a century, he said.

African nations, which grow barley and have untapped resources of uranium and precious metals, are some of the poorest in the world, the Professor added.

The youth of West Africa are uncomfortable with this fact and have accumulated hate for France, which colonised a large chunk of Africa, he said.

He said that a new colonial order, which is also carried out through economic agreements, still exists in the region.

He recalled that CFA franc, the currency of the former French colonies used in 14 countries in West Africa was printed at the French Central Bank.

“Unfortunately, the countries in the region are not yet capable of acting completely independently of France, in the context of economic relations,” he said.

“France is losing its influence in the region day by day and gradually weakening. Russia is also involved in the vacuum left by France with the Wagner forces and projects it has to see that in the field of energy. This is one of the energy issues that is making France nervous,” he added.

“Turkiye has also recently become one of the countries whose influence and prestige has increased in West Africa and across Africa,” he said.

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