"The Artful Neutral" is the title of a very good book describing Turkish policy during World War II.
Turkey - The Artful Neutral
Although Turkey never fought in World War II, Turkish diplomats developed intense lobbying activity, succeeding in keeping their country intact and damaging the war efforts of both the Allies and the Axis.
This is exactly what the Turks are doing now, "mocking" both Ukrainian-NATO and Russia, playing the same role again.
Thus Ankara buys engines for drones, fighter aircraft and attack helicopters and know-how for them from Ukraine, thus developing new critical weapon systems, providing Kiev with military assistance, mainly with the Bayraktar TB-2 which at the beginning of the war decimated Russian tanks.
It also 'misleads' NATO, that supposedly because it belongs to NATO it defends its interests, presenting as necessary the maintenance of good relations with Russia in order to ensure the maritime transit through the Black Sea of Ukrainian grain, which is not the case at the present stage, since Moscow does not consent to the conclusion of a new agreement on this issue.
In order to appease Putin, Turkey is not participating in the sanctions against Russia, like the other NATO countries, giving an economic outlet to Russia, with which it is co-determining the future of Syria with Iran, another enemy of the West , while Erdogan is 'doing business' with the Russian President in Libya , but also in Mali , as we shall see below.
Turkey-Mali military cooperation
"The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expanded its ties with officials of the African nation of Mali who were recently sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for malicious activities of the Russian mercenary group Wagner in the West African country," reports an article by Abdullah Bozkurt International Media , pointing out the following highlights among others in our assessment:
"Growing ties between Turkey and Mali's military rulers have been cultivated in recent years through military aid, training, trade and investment programs, all of which are part of the Islamist Erdogan's government's campaign to limit Western influence in Africa, a goal also aggressively pursued by Russia and China.
Colonel Sadio Camara, Mali's defense minister and one of three officials sanctioned, has established close ties with Turkish government officials and has procured military hardware from the NATO member state.
Kamara and his team were hosted in Turkey in April last year following a special invitation from his counterpart, then Defence Minister Houloussi Akar, who now heads the parliamentary Defence Committee.
During the meeting they discussed the expansion of military and defence cooperation between Turkey and the military government of Mali.
Turkey and Mali have signed several military and defence agreements in recent years.
The Security Cooperation Agreement, signed in February 2015, provides for the development of both short-term and long-term projects focusing on military training, technical support, equipment donation and advice.
The agreement also includes provisions for information sharing.
This agreement allows Turkey to sell surplus military goods, including weapons and ammunition, to Mali. In addition, the agreement covers the modernisation of the Malian army and promotes the joint production and development of defence equipment.
Turkey sold Bayraktar TB2 to Mali
Turkey has so far supplied Mali with several Bayraktar TB2 drones, which were presented by the country's military leader at a ceremony held in March.
The event was attended by both the Russian and Turkish ambassadors. The ceremony was headed by the country's junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, and the head of Mali's air force, Colonel Alou Boi Diarra, who has been sanctioned by the US.
It is estimated that Mali has received a total of eight Turkish drones and is expected to acquire more in the future.
The 2020 coup and Turkish infiltration
The Erdogan government saw the August 18, 2020 military coup as an opportunity to expand its influence in Mali.
Turkey's then Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was the first high-ranking, non-African official to visit Mali after the coup, despite the fact that international organizations including the United Nations, the EU, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) strongly condemned the military action and called for the immediate restoration of the Constitution.
Cavusoglu's visit to Bamako on 9 September 2020 took place amid growing anti-French sentiment among the military rulers and was seen as a legitimisation of the junta government.
Moreover, Ahmed Kavas, who was serving as ambassador in Dakar at the time, described the coup as the beginning of an "African spring".
Kavas, who played a major role in shaping the Erdogan government's policies on Africa, made controversial statements in 2013, declaring that "al-Qaeda is not a terrorist organization" and accusing France of deliberately exaggerating the terrorist threat in Mali.
The Turks aim to limit French influence in Mali
The Erdogan government's interest in Mali, aimed at limiting French influence and supporting Islamist groups aligned with Turkey, dates back to 2013, when the French launched an operation to drive Islamist militants out of northern Mali.
The operation followed United Nations Security Council Resolution 2085 of 20 December 2012 and a formal request by Mali's interim government for French military assistance.
Turkey has been critical of the military intervention and President Erdogan has described the operation as part of a Western attack on Mali, claiming it was driven by a desire to exploit the country's rich gold reserves.
Turkey's anti-French position has remained unchanged ever since.
French President Emmanuel Macron became a particular target of Erdogan, with the Turkish president referring to Macron as a "nut case" on several occasions in October 2020 and suggesting he needed medical treatment.
When Mali's military leaders forced the withdrawal of French troops last year, Erdogan welcomed the news.
Today, both Turkey and Russia share a common interest in expanding their influence in Mali at the expense of the West.
In May, a leaked US intelligence document on social media revealed that President Goyta confirmed Turkey's possible acquisition of Mali's weapons from Turkey on behalf of the Russian mercenary company Wagner.
The document also said that Russian mercenaries had met with Turks in early February to discuss the purchase of weapons and equipment from Turkey.
The allegations in the intelligence document were partially verified by US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, who said at a May 22 press conference that "Wagner was attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and channel those weapons through Mali to a third party. "without mentioning Turkey. The military hardware was intended for use in Ukraine.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Colonel Kamara was the key official responsible for planning and organizing the Wagner Group's deployment in Mali.
He made several trips to Russia in 2021 to finalise the agreement between Wagner and the transitional government of Mali for their development in Mali.
Colonel Diarra, Chief of Staff of the Malian Air Force, played a key role in facilitating the logistical movement of Russian entities to Mali.
According to the US, since Wagner Group's arrival in Mali in December 2021, the number of civilian casualties in the country has increased by 278%.
Many of these civilian deaths have resulted from operations conducted by the Malian Armed Forces in cooperation with Wagner Group members.
In a report issued Monday, Human Rights Watch also documented allegations of summary executions, looting, forced disappearances and other abuses committed by the Malian army in collaboration with Wagner.
Turkey, a country with an abysmal human rights record under the Erdogan government, has remained silent in the face of such atrocities committed by Mali's military leaders."
From the above it is clear that we have a partnership between Turkey - Russian mercenary Wagner and coup plotters in Mali with the aim of completely expelling France-West from the country.
US-NATO should realise while it is still early that Turkey is nothing but a country detrimental to their interests everywhere, acting as a Trojan Horse and not as an ally, proving it so far in Syria-Libya-NE Mediterranean-Aegean and recently in Mali.