(NYTimes) — Turkey has courted Africa for more than a decade, boosting trade, opening more than two dozen new embassies and Turkish Airlines routes and dispatching aid to conflict-torn Somalia. More recently, the Turkish government lobbied African nations to close or take over local schools linked to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding a failed coup attempt last year.
So while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan travels with a big business delegation to Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar this week, he is also focusing on what he calls a security threat. Turkey accuses international schools inspired by Gulen of providing militant recruits for his movement, which in turn says an increasingly authoritarian government is casting as wide a net as possible for perceived opponents. […]
Turkey's involvement in Africa feeds into the Turkish ruling party's "self-perception as the protector of Muslims and Muslim minorities around the world," said Sener Akturk, associate professor in the international relations department at Koc University in Istanbul.
And winning African support dovetails with Erdogan's argument that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — "do not represent and do not serve the world" and the U.N. should be reformed, Akturk said. […]
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