Turkish President Erdoğan calls on Africa to fight against ‘dangerous structures’
MALABO – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on African states on Nov. 21 to “beware of dangerous organizations operating in their country,” in a clear reference to the followers of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who operate many schools across the world.
“We see that some dangerous structures are trying to influence Turkey and some African countries under the cover of non-governmental organizations or voluntary education workers. We are watching these carefully. We expect our friends in Africa to be aware of this threat too, and I would like to stress we are ready to share intelligence to tackle those organizations,” said Erdoğan during his speech at the Leaders Meeting of the Second Africa-Turkey Summit on Nov. 21 in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
The Gülen movement is active in education, with private and charter schools in over 140 countries, including in a number of countries across Africa.
Erdoğan also announced an additional $5 million from Turkey to help Africa’s fight against the Ebola epidemic. The disease has killed at least 4,877 people since the beginning of February. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been the hardest hit, with more than 1,012 cases being confirmed to date. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described Ebola as “one of the most virulent” viruses in the world.
“We can see once again that cooperation in the health field is extremely important, as these are tumultuous times because of the Ebola epidemic,” Erdoğan said, underscoring Turkey should widen its cooperation partnerships in Africa in the fields of agriculture, energy and health.
The three-day summit, which kicked off on Nov. 19 in Malabo, is expected to discuss plans and targets for the blooming partnership between Turkey and African countries over the next five years.
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz stressed the economic cost to affected countries during the meeting. “Ebola has hit African countries in the economic sense as well,” Abdel Aziz said, calling on “Africa’s friends” to provide financial aid to countries hit by the crisis.
“Cooperation with Turkey in various areas will help us overcome the challenges Africa faces today,” he said.
The president of host nation Equatorial Guinea also delivered a speech. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said platforms like the Africa-Turkey summit demonstrate the significance of Africa in political, economic and strategic terms.
“The Malabo Declaration to be agreed upon at the end of the Summit today aims to further Africa-Turkey relations,” Mbasogo said.
The fight between erstwhile allies Erdoğan and Gülen began late last year after a massive corruption and graft investigation against four ministers led by Istanbul prosecutors went public. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government says the operation was a plot carried out by prosecutors and police officers loyal to Gülen, a 73-year-old preacher who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1997, with the aim of toppling Erdoğan and his government.
The Gülenists, who have been accused of forming a “parallel structure” within the state, have also been charged with illegally eavesdropping on hundreds of thousands of people through operations by members employed in the judiciary and the police.