I am writing this article in Abidjan, the economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, as part of a diplomatic delegation headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that is engaging in a series of official talks in the region. The dynamism in the port of Abidjan, the second-largest port in Africa, is what arouses my attention most when I look out my window. Everything is in apple-pie order in the hotel garden, but the shanties that start where the well-cared for grass ends are a reality that highlights the poverty in the city and on the continent. When compared to other West African countries, Cote d'Ivoire has more advanced infrastructure with its 82,000-kilometer highway network.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara served as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) regional officer for Africa and the president of the Central Bank of West African States in the past, so he has comprehensive experience to fathom the causes of what happened to Africa. Ouattara led the Rally of the Republicans, a former opposition party, in 1999, but he faced the obstacle of the constitutional referendum in 2000, which banned presidential candidates who previously sought citizenship from other countries or whose parents were not from Cote d'Ivoire. As his father was from Burkina Faso, Ouattara was banned from running, and domestic turbulence prevented him from doing so until 2010. He was elected president for the first time in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015, receiving 84 percent of the vote. Ouattara is known as someone who significantly increased the country's economic welfare by achieving 9 percent growth on average per year since 2012 as well as ended the political instability that claimed many lives in the country. Furthermore, he is now working on a new constitution, arguing that the constitution that was written in 2000 has lost its legal legitimacy. He also aims to change the concept of nationalism that prevented him from being elected. Let me add that Ouattara is Muslim and his wife is French.
The reason I share all this information is that the tendencies of the Ivorian president tell about the past and current state in the country and the whole of the continent. Here, you can see the traces of French influence, American economic hegemony and pressure, terror and tribal wars that span multiple years and the plundered underground and aboveground resources. We see the emergence of new political movements and their leaders who know the West well, estimate what the West can do and seek new paths by maintaining balances with the West. This political path is welfare- and development-oriented understanding far from radicalism and highlights national interests. This is why leaders such as Ouattara have great respect for Turkey and Erdoğan. Certainly, it is a new way out; it is a new paradigm for Africa and all developing countries, including Turkey, to maintain the balances with the West as well as defend national interests despite the West. This is why many of these countries have recently embarked on new quests for new constitutions and new systems. However, terror and attacks on such political tendencies do not stop, as those who hold on to the old resist what is new.
For many centuries, the West dominated Africa as a large but poor group of colonies and seized all of its underground and aboveground resources. Tribal wars that lasted for years destroyed the continent's human resources. The primary goal of colonialism was to seize a country's natural wealth in order to immobilize its human resources, which can be paralyzed in two ways. First, young people, particularly those who are educated, were immobilized through wars, especially civil wars. Second, the elite are bought with material tools as well as ideological and political mechanisms. This group is usually employed in the political bureaucracy, media, strategic companies and educational institutions. From my point of view, the West has developed in three basic colonial phases since the Industrial Revolution, of which it is currently in the third phase. The profile of Cecil Rhodes - one of the major colonialists who the British Empire exported to Africa to colonize the continent - illustrates the first colonial phase very well.
Rhodes, who managed to be a colonial businessman and statesman by establishing the De Beers diamond company in Africa, said: "To save the 40 million inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, our colonial statesmen must acquire new lands for settling the surplus population of this country [and] to provide new markets. The [British] Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question." As we can infer, Rhodes was very sincere in his colonial attitudes. However, the civil war, which he had to avoid, concerned countries like the U.K. alone. As Rhodes's Cape-to-Cairo Railway project, which aimed to connect adjacent African possessions of the British crown through a continuous line from Cape Town to Cairo, progressed, the civil war escalated on the continent at the same speed. Although Rhodes died in Cape Town in 1902, he did most of what he sought to do. As the African territory from Cape Town to Cairo was colonized in the early 20th century, civil wars and the plunder of underground resources have continued until today. This was the first phase of colonization. The second phase, which started with the new, United States-led domestic dictatorships and civil wars coming into play after World War II, ended in the late 1990s. Although dictators were dethroned one by one, developing countries, particularly those in Africa, failed to propose a new development and welfare path. This was because the dominant powers, plunderers and coconspirator bourgeoisie of the past objected to what was new, which gave rise to the emergence of new terrorist organizations and paramilitary structures.
We are now going through the third phase. The dictators have been replaced by new colonialist terrorist organizations and their media proxies such as the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) in Turkey. Believe me, for many years Africa has undergone what is taking place in Turkey at the moment. However, all of these malevolent efforts will fizzle out. Turkey's presence in Africa is crucial, and I will continue to write on this in Africa. Turkey does not approach Africa with a colonial view, it strives to invest in the continent with the objective of offering the continent a new developmental path, awareness and political experiences.