Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boasts about being the leader who goes most frequently to Africa, but his outreach to African countries might backfire as he keeps maligning Europe’s colonial past and pursues a controversial strategy in Libya.
On Jan. 27, Gambia became the 28th African country Erdogan has visited. Erdogan's trip to war-torn Somalia in 2011 was the most publicized as he became the first non-African leader to visit Mogadishu in two decades. His most controversial visit, however, was to Sudan in late 2017. Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, who would soon be overthrown, agreed to lease Suakin Island to Turkey, animating Erdogan’s Ottoman dreams. Claims that Turkey would build a military base on the island, once an Ottoman port, after restoring its historical sites infuriated other Red Sea countries who saw the move as “the return of colonialists.”