Turkey's Soft-Power Crisis in Africa
Since the 1990s, Turkey has been developing its soft power in Africa to support its economic and political expansion south of the Sahara. Schools and other institutions associated with the Fethullah Gülen movement (Hizmet) were instrumental in building Turkish-oriented local elites, raising interest in Turkish culture, and building Turkey’s image as synonymous with success.
However, the fallout from the 2016 coup attempt in Ankara marked the definitive end of the synergy between Hizmet and the Turkish state. This created a new context in which Turkey’s pressures and direct interference in African governments’ affairs accompany a revision of its soft-power instruments. In times of increasing competition for influence on the continent, disillusionment about the neutrality of Turkey and other authoritarian newcomers to Africa—Russia, United Arab Emirates—raises the appeal of the EU as a partner.