Turkey showing the world what real aid means

Published 03.06.2016 01:32

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be inaugurating a modern and massive embassy building in Somalia today as he concludes his east Africa trip, which also took him to Uganda and Kenya.

The embassy opening is symbolic of what Turkey has done for Somalia until now under the leadership of President Erdoğan and a clear indication of what Turkey will do for this impoverished country in the future.

Turkey under Erdoğan's leadership has attached great importance to expanding its relations throughout Africa, opening embassies all around the continent and sending Turkish Airlines (THY) to 48 destinations on regularly scheduled flights. It has not only established good business relations with African countries but has done this on a "win-win" basis and has convinced its African counterparts that Turkey has not entered the continent to exploit the riches of Africa, like the former Western colonialists, and not give back anything in return.

African leaders both in eastern and western Africa have seen clearly that Turks have entered the area and have given even more than they have taken. The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) has offices in 14 locations around the continent that provide aid and undertake numerous infrastructure projects that have made an impact in the countries it has served. Turkish foundations and NGOs have also served well in Africa making a positive impact.

President Erdoğan has always told Africans that Turks have come to the continent as partners and not as the "big brothers" like the blood-sucking Westerners and in the past decade has proven this through its actions. The $55 million collected by the United Nations to help Somalia simply evaporated and no one can show any tangible projects that have been undertaken in Somalia with these funds.

In Somalia, Turkey has shunned the terrorist threat entering the country with its officials while NGOs operating in Somalia from Turkey spent nearly $500 million building hospitals, roads, and all kinds of infrastructure projects. Turks and especially Erdoğan have won the hearts of the people of Somalia from all walks of life. Many children in Somalia have been named after Erdoğan, who has continued striving for the cause of bringing Somalia out of poverty and famine and pushing it into the 21st century. Turks have mingled with crowds despite the terrorist threat and thus have won the deep respect of the masses.

Turkey has also managed to build inroads into the Somalian dissident and opposition groups thus helping find a political solution to the turmoil in the country.

Why is Turkey doing all this?

One reason, of course, is the general Turkish policy of entering Africa politically and economically thus providing international dividends for the country. Turkey has neglected the continent that the Ottomans held in high esteem. Now Turkey is making up for its past losses.

The other and more important reason is the fact that Turkey's foreign policy is dictated with the notion of "helping humanity," with special emphasis on Muslim communities. That is why while all other countries and especially the Europeans look down upon Syrian migrants "as bugs to be crushed," Turkey regards them as people who have lost their homes and are fleeing war and have to be given shelter and comfort. That is why Turkey is sheltering 3 million Syrians and has spent $10 billion for their safe keeping. This is the mentality that motivates Erdoğan to extend a helping hand to the frail hands in Africa and especially in Somalia. No wonder the Europeans try to depict Erdoğan as a dictator and try to belittle him...

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