Expanding security cooperation and friendly rhetoric are strengthening Ankara’s influence on the continent.

Leaders from more than a dozen African countries attended the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul last week, reflecting the country’s growing clout on the continent. Among the attendees were Senegalese President Macky Sall, the incoming chair of the African Union; Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, currently the chair of the Economic Community of West African States; and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, reports Foreign Policy magazine

The presence of so many high-level attendees could be seen as a foreign-policy challenge for the United States if Turkey ends up wielding greater influence in Africa—as China already does.

Part of the problem might be the terms of engagement: Mnangagwa and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for example, were both excluded from U.S. President Joe Biden’s democracy summit earlier this month. Since entering office, Biden has been coming to terms with a world that is moving on from an era of U.S. dominance—particularly across Africa, which has been low on Washington’s agenda for decades.

Erdogan has sought to fill the gap. Turkey has steadily expanded its African footprint since its 2019 intervention in the Libyan civil war. Its investments on the continent include a mosque in Ghana, an Olympic pool in Senegal, and an army base in Somalia training 10,000 local troops.

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