Turkey Strengthens Ties with Niger, Expands Influence in the Sahel

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read
Turkey

Niger’s Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, marking a significant diplomatic move as Niger grapples with financial challenges and seeks to diversify its international partnerships.

Continuing his diplomatic tour following visits to Russia and Iran last month, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine aims to broaden Niger’s alliances. Turkey, led by President Erdogan, which refrained from harshly criticizing the coup in Niger last year, welcomes the desire of Niamey’s new authorities to enhance the existing ties between the two nations. Bilateral trade has already experienced a substantial surge, tripling from 2021 to 2022, reaching $203 million.

This growth is predominantly driven by Turkish defense industry exports. Ankara had notably supplied armed drones to the ousted government and shows openness to further deliveries. During a November visit to Niamey by the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister, both countries expressed their commitment to strengthening their strategic partnership, particularly in the realms of security and economics. The Turkish Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense were present during Thursday’s meeting in Ankara between Lamine Zeine and Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey also expresses willingness to continue its development aid to Niger, considering it “one of the most important aspects” of their relationship. According to the latest official figures, Niger ranks among the top five recipients of Turkish aid in sub-Saharan Africa, receiving $1.5 million in 2021.

Increasingly present in Africa, Turkey seems poised to leverage the ongoing geopolitical shifts in the Sahel, aiming to amplify its influence through a new diplomatic, military, and economic offensive in the region. We spoke with Jean Marcou, a researcher in international relations at Sciences Po Grenoble, to gain insights into Turkey’s evolving strategy in the Sahel.

Soukaina Sghir

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