Turkey’s Growing Influence in Africa

For many years, Ankara has been an important player in the Libyan civil war, backing one of the primary belligerents. But Turkish influence extends far further across the African continent, in keeping with a strategy developed in the 1990s and adopted by Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he came power in 2003. Erdogan has visited 33 African countries in the past twenty years; Turkey is a partner of the African Union and has extensive trade relations with numerous African states, which include arm sales. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak explains:

[State institutions like the Directorate of Religious Affairs, known as] the Diyanet, help Turkey increase its influence through religion by constructing mosques. In doing so, Turkey challenges Saudi Arabia and Iran, especially in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad. A concrete example of this policy could be seen in Djibouti. The Diyanet finalized the construction of the Ottoman-style Abdülhamit II mosque in 2019, but this impressive mosque cannot overshadow the Turkish-built Nizamiye mosque in Somalia. The mosque was crowned as the biggest in East Africa. In addition to constructing its own style of mosques, Turkey also launched restoration projects for repairing Somali mosques.

To secure its ventures in this unstable country, Ankara inaugurated its most extensive military base abroad in Somalia in 2017. In the first stage, Turkey deployed 200 Turkish soldiers on the base to train 10,000 Somali soldiers against al-Shabab, [the Horn of Africa’s al-Qaeda affiliate]. In addition, Ankara also dispatched tanks and UAVs to collect intelligence and safeguard the base from al-Shabab attacks.

Somalia invited Turkey to research and discover hydrocarbon reserves in a 47,000-square mile area.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Africa, Al Qaeda, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security