A report by Yeni Şafak daily states that Russian media highlighted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s fortitude as he spoke of his Africa visit. According to the Russians, the most prominent reason President Erdoğan is not afraid of the world’s five nuclear powers is that he has a plan of his own at play. Furthermore, he is progressing step by step to implement this plan. Similar to Russian media, several articles concerning Erdoğan’s Africa visit were penned by French media as well. These articles focus on Turkey being a driving force in Africa.
Erdoğan’s four-day West Africa visit resonated a lot more compared to his previous visits. It can be ascertained that the fact that Ankara’s policy in Africa presents constancy in accordance with a certain policy, gaining depth as it progresses, has been effective in this regard. As underscored in Russian media, the gradual implementation of Erdoğan’s plan has started to draw attention.
Cornerstones of Turkey’s Africa policy
Turkey’s Africa policy is being built upon economic and trade relations. However, it is the ideological dimension that ensures these relations become deeper and permanent. This idea gained prominence within the scope of Erdoğan’s four-day visit. As publicity for Erdoğan’s book, “A Fairer World is Possible,” captured attention on billboards, so did Erdoğan’s objective. However, we cannot say that a discussion about the nature of this plan has been brought up on the world’s agenda as of yet. It is likely that as events develop in the same direction, Turkey’s perspective will become a hot-button topic. Of course, this new development should have come up domestically as well, but opposition groups are choosing to nip it in the bud. However, the topic closely concerns the nation as much as it does the world.
Why are some within ignoring Erdoğan’s Africa visit?
If you pay close attention, articles in French media, as well as those penned through the lens of other Western countries, are based on the concept of power. The references made to soft and hard power essentially imply the realization of objectives such as expansionism. As the reflection of such an acknowledgment or a Eurocentric perception, Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), had already identified Turkey’s Mediterranean policy as expansionist. It is safe to say that the same perception applies to its Africa policy. Thus, when Libya had come up on the agenda, CHP politicians had said that we Turkey had no business being in North Africa. Conservative parties are also known for embracing the CHP’s discourse. They too claim that Turkey is following an expansionist policy. If they were to go a step further and draw a conceptional frame, they would not hesitate to accuse Turkey of being colonialist or imperialist. In this sense, it is crystal clear that emphasis on the nature of the idea mentioned by the Russians will be significant – because, to consider Turkey as a colonialist and imperialist country, one would either need to be clueless on the events of the last five centuries, or be doing this intentionally.
Our region, from Africa to Turkestan: There must be an anti-colonialism system
Considering the last five centuries of world history, it can clearly be discerned that Turkey is striving to construct a new idea in a vast area from the west coasts of Africa, from the Sahara’s “coast” to Asia’s steppes. Deepening ties with African countries through bouncing trade relations is also significant within this context. A slew of countries of the great continent gaining economic independence is of critical importance. A new interest in Africa’s resources is in question, with emphasis on the fact that Turkey is contributing to the African countries of the colonial era. We are well aware that the liberal groups in Turkey share the same opinion. Glossing over Turkey’s breakthroughs in Africa, or efforts to trivialize them need to be discussed hand-in-hand with the praise for European colonialism, in which liberals are also included.
European colonialism had risen through a bypass of the Turkish and Muslim world. Our ancestors had grasped very early on what the Portuguese fleet reaching the Indian Ocean signified. Four centuries on, we strove to reposition our region during the Sultan Abdulhamid II period, but, alas, we did not possess the necessary power to make it happen. An era ended with World War I. Now, a century later, it is very clear that we want to form an atmosphere in which Mansa Musa can depart from Mali and easily cross the Sahara. So to speak, we need to see the “master plan.”
Erdoğan’s book, “A Fairer World is Possible,” says new things. The book’s content will be further discussed over time. Surely, this will be possible with Turkey’s acumen. Anti-colonialism should also be a system.
Will Turkey’s F-35 talks with the US at the Rome summit yield positive results?
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has spoken to his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden twice, once by phone, since he took office in January 2021.
From the face-to-face meeting held in Brussels on June 14th, the two seemed to reach a conclusion that could be summarized as focusing on areas where cooperation could be achieved, rather than on sticking points where it was difficult to make any progress.
As things currently stand, the Afghanistan issue seemed to be the most convenient topic for cooperation.
By keeping control of Kabul Airport, Turkey would have ensured that foreign, mostly Western countries’ representations in the capital.
However, as you all know by now, things did not go as planned in Afghanistan.
With the Taliban taking control of Kabul very quickly with the collapse of the Afghan army, which was created by the U.S. and turned out to be a “paper tiger” when it suddenly disintegrated, the project that would’ve seen Turkey taking control over Hamid Karzai Airport became futile.
Therefore, there is not much left to talk about and cooperate on between the two countries in Afghanistan.
Erdogan and Biden will meet for the second time face-to-face at the G-20 summit in Rome at the end of the month.
Judging by the statements made before the summit and certain developments, this time the focus of the meeting will be the search for a solution to the F-35 issue.
Speaking to reporters on the plane at the end of his African tour, Erdogan said, “We will get our $1.4 billion one way or another. Turkey will not be gouged.” After saying that, he elaborated on a formula for a solution and said, “Our defense ministers will talk now. I believe we will go the distance. We’ll talk to Biden at the G-20 in Rome. We will ask, “What are we doing, what is going on?”
We know that the American side has also made a statement that they are in consultation with the Turkish authorities to find a solution to the F-35 crisis.
The meeting between the defense ministers mentioned by Erdogan took place the previous day in Brussels.
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
According to media reports, during this vis-à-vis, the necessity of holding a detailed meeting before the G-20 Leaders’ Summit, which will be held in Rome at the end of this month, was discussed in order to set a positive agenda.
What is out our main takeaway from this?
So, “consultations” will be ongoing until that date in order to “set a positive agenda” before the meeting in Rome.
Meanwhile, through the statements of Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç, we learned that there is ongoing contact between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs regarding the same issue.
According to what Bilgiç said at the press briefing, there are three options on the table:
“Either we will return to this program, we will either get the planes we were promised, or they will refund our money.”
As can be surmised from these words, the use of the $1.4 billion money Turkey paid for the F-35 in order to modernize its F-16s is on the table as an option.
However, there are some question marks about this part of the deal.
About half of the amount of money Turkey paid for the F-35s consists of the sum intended for the program partnership and it does not seem easy to reimburse.
In addition, considering that the monetary value of the discussed issue is close to $7 billion , it is necessary to consider how profitable this thing is.
We have passed all of them, even if the American administration accepts Turkey’s F-16 bid, the issue has to be greenlit in Congress.
And whether Congress will allow that purchase is a big question mark.
Still, let us emphasize that that Turkey is not exactly “stuck and helpless” because of the aforementioned question marks.
We know that there are no “scary” consequences should Turkey be removed from the F-35 program, based on what we already know.
We already know that being removed from this program will have a stimulating effect and that Turkey will gain in the medium and long term, even if some obstacles do arise in the short term.
In addition, Turkey continues to pen its own impressive story when it comes to the field of unmanned aerial vehicles.
By 2023, the jet-powered unmanned fighter aircraft will take off. As it continues to be in development, the idea that this aircraft can match the performance of manned warplanes simply cannot be ignored as its capabilities increase.
In addition, the National Combat Aircraft is also expected to be out of the hangars soon enough.
Of course, Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program should not be seen as a mere “simple” event.
However, creating a perception of “obligation” and “conviction” just because this is the case is in no way a fair attitude to adopt.