Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia: The Race to Africa

By Scott Morgan

As 2017 wraps up it is now clear that the Saudi-Qatari proxy war will be spreading to Africa in the near future. Right now, the Qataris and their allies are making the moves.

Turkey's African Moves

It began on Christmas Eve when Turkish President Erdogan embarked on a three nation tour that had stops in Sudan, Chad and Tunisia. On the first leg of his visit, the media went agog with talks of brotherhood between Sudanese President Bashir and Erdogan. However, these comments stopped just short of being called an outright alliance. After all, there are hundreds of Sudanese Troops currently in Yemen assisting the Saudis in that drawn out conflict.

Notwithstanding, Erdogan's visit to Tunisia may explain the surprising row over Tunisian Women that were flying Emirates Airlines. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been supporting the Saudi efforts in Yemen and have been engaged in their own African program by building an Air Base in Eritrea. Nevertheless, it has been reported that the contract to construct an Air Base in Somaliland and some investments in Berbera by the UAE will not be renewed. The Somali-Qatari feud threatens to split the current Somali Government as well. Therefore, one question that needs to be asked is will Somalia be the next front in the Saudi-Qatari proxy war?

The close relationship between Chadian President Deby and Bashir may be a harbinger of what to expect when Erdogan holds those talks. Will we see the flowing prose of brotherhood in the media as what was presented to the World when Erdogan visited Khartoum?

Qatar's African Journey

Another recent visitor to Africa was the Emir of Qatar. At the same time that the Turkish President was beginning his tour in East and Central Africa, the Emir was in West Africa seeking new economic opportunities in six nations. Those stops on his itinerary were Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Cote D’Ivorie (Ivory Coast) before wrapping up his visit in Ghana.

It is widely felt that the economic actions by the Saudis and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that have been taken against Qatar is forcing the Emirate to seek new outlets for trade and other measures. The mining sector in Guinea and the promising Oil Fields in Ghana are two excellent options to provide resources and revenue for Doha, against any efforts from the Saudis. Ivory Coast does have one of the fastest growing economies in Africa but internal security does remain an issue with members of the security forces attempting several mutinies earlier this year over pay issues.

Mali and Burkina Faso are two interesting stops, since they both face Islamist Insurgencies and actions by Jihadist Groups. So if Qatar has been accused of sponsoring terrorism why would the Emir visit? The easy answer is to seek their support for the Qatari efforts to prop up the current Libyan faction operating out of Tripoli and acknowledgement as the legitimate Government of Libya by the United Nations (and other actors). This is a shrewd diplomatic move by Doha as it is felt by many that the issues plaguing both Mali and Burkina Faso originate in Libya.

Will Saudi Arabia Follow Suit?

So, we should soon expect a visit to several countries in Africa by the Saudis soon. This should not be an option either. If one follows Machiavelli this should not be a question of if this visit will take place but when.

The Saudis should have expected to see their adversaries in Syria and Yemen to move against them in an arena where there is little to no resistance. Libya is one country to expect a Saudi Countermove. Another one can be South Sudan as well. The impoverished country is in dire need of investments in virtually all sectors of the economy. This is an interesting Chessboard that is in play right now.

(Image[Ed.]: Qatari Emir and Erdogan - Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Hi Morgan,

    The question is whether this race had been planned for quite some time. I ask this because Turkey began targeting Africa a long time ago, inclusively by building schools in many countries. Qatar may be just following Turkey's footsteps as part of Erdogan's help to that Emirate (the two countries are too cosy). Saudi Arabia has invested in Sudan a long time ago, along with Jordan (remember Sudan is where these two countries grow their food).

    Very interesting moves indeed. Thanks for this great end of 2017!



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