A new 22 page report by Ambassador David Shinn and published by Chatham House provides current analysis on developing relations between Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa. An important part of the report details the activities of the Hizmet Movement inspired by Rumi Forum's Honorary President Fethullah Gulen.
Other op-eds and articles on Hizmet and Fethullah Gulen here
Below are some extracts, link to full report is below:
in Sub-Saharan Africa
Shifting Alliances and
Humanitarian and civil society organizations
At the forefront of Turkish civil society engagement in Africa is the ‘Gülen movement’ – referred to by
the exiled followers of Fethullah Gülen as Hizmet, meaning service for others. The movement began as a
faith-based, non-political, cultural and educational effort inside Turkey, and it has since spread globally.
It puts a premium on interfaith dialogue, and once had close ties to the AKP – with which it agreed on the
need to take advantage of globalization’s opportunities. The movement’s financial support comes from a
tradition of Turkish and Islamic charity, especially provided by the business community. Gülenists have
been sharply criticized in some quarters for pursuing their own agenda and seeking to place supporters
in key government and security positions in Turkey. The movement is best known in SSA for the high-quality schools – primary and secondary
institutions, as well as one university – that Turkish business people inspired by Gülen have financed.
There is no central organization in charge of the schools, which are fee-paying private institutions
with rigorous academic standards, and which follow the curriculum of the host country. There are
close ties between the schools and Turkish sponsors doing business in the countries where they are
located. A key to their success is the network that they provide. Graduates in the DRC, for example,
often speak Turkish and help drive Turkey’s commercial interests....
....The influence of the Gülenist movement on Turkey’s Africa policy has been such that it was
credited by many observers with pioneering the opening up to the continent, but the recent schism
in relations between Erdoğan and Gülen has led some within the Turkish establishment to call for a
revision of foreign policy. President Erdoğan has even urged foreign governments, including those
in SSA, to close down Gülen-affiliated projects. At the Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit
in November 2014, Erdoğan warned the assembled African leaders of the ‘hidden agendas’ of the
Gülenists. Pro-government media sources have reported that Erdoğan has managed to convince
Gabon and Senegal to shut down Gülenist-run schools, and that the Republic of the Congo and
Somalia have implemented processes for their closure, although these schools appear to remain
open. However, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique has expressed his support for the movement,
announcing in mid-2015 that he intended to visit the Gülenist school in Maputo from which his
son had graduated. Côte d’Ivoire’s deputy education minister was reported as having informed
one news agency that Erdoğan’s stance against Africa was ‘similar to colonial states’ in seeking
an ‘educationally backward’ continent....
...Kimse Yok Mu (‘Is Anybody There’ – KYM) is a non-governmental, Gülen-inspired relief organization,
established after the 1999 earthquakes in Turkey, which has expanded globally. Unlike the Gülenaffiliated
schools, KYM has a formal, hierarchical structure and organized mechanism for fundraising.
Between 2006, when it began assistance to Africa, and 2013, KYM provided about $65.4 million to 45
countries. KYM assistance to Africa reached its highest point in 2011, but it has since declined; in 2013
it distributed about $17.5 million to 43 African countries, with most aid going to development projects,
health, education, water wells and support for orphans. During Ramadan KYM offers iftar (fastbreaking
meals) and food packages in many SSA countries. The AKP government’s efforts against
the Gülenist movement have even extended to KYM, which has had its bank accounts frozen and
which was reported in April 2015 to be under investigation for alleged terrorist activities.101 None the
less, KYM, which inter alia aims to build 1,000 new schools in Africa by 2020, has subsequently signed
a memorandum of understanding with the African Union on efforts to increase cooperation in aid,
development and education...