Egypt, UAE seeking closer ties with Senegal to counter Turkish influence - report

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are seeking to establish closer relations with Senegal to counter Turkey's expansion in West Africa, Al-Monitor reported.

Egypt is organising a visit to Senegal to discuss deepening agriculture and infrastructure projects given the "historical and fraternal ties between the African brothers," said May Mahmoud, a member of Egypt's parliamentary African Affairs Committee, on Jan. 5, according to Al-Monitor.

“Egypt is at the heart of Africa, and no one can influence its historical role in supporting African peoples,” Mahmoud said.

Al-Monitor cited a series of earlier meetings between Egyptian and Senegalese officials on closer cooperation in various areas, all of which came after Turkey’s foreign minister made a high-profile visit to Senegal to discuss increasing trade volume in September 2020.

On a visit to Senegal last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “We are building a common future with Senegal, inspired by a deep-rooted historical bond. Our businessmen are ready to make a greater contribution to the Senegalese economy.”

Turkey made intensive efforts in 2020 to consolidate its ties with West African countries, mainly Senegal, by providing humanitarian aid and sealing cooperation agreements in various economic, political and social fields, Amani al-Taweel, director of the African Programme at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor.

“Turkey’s increased moves in this direction have raised the concerns of some countries, such as Egypt and (its ally) the United Arab Emirates, about Ankara’s ambitions in the region,” Taweel said. “Cairo and Abu Dhabi will try to block the road on Turkey’s attempts to have a foothold in West Africa.”

Taweel said the two countries will be able to “subdue” Turkey’s ambitions in Senegal, though not completely eliminate them, since Ankara has already managed to establish a strong presence in the nation.

“Despite being two heavyweights in the region, both Egypt and the UAE are well aware of the dangers that are being hatched in the region,” he said.

The two Arab allies have locked horns with Turkey on a number of regional issues, including the Libya conflict, where both sides support opposing factions.