Liberia: Turks Were Deported in Exchange for Turkish Investments in Liberia, New Details Reveal

Pres. Erdogan: “Liberia is very strategic and important and Turkey is keen to deepen our relations with your country in many areas that will be of mutual benefits.”

MONROVIA – New information reaching FrontPageAfrica reveal that the deportation of the Turkish nationals at the Light International School was a pre-condition set by Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Turkish investments in Liberia.

The deportation of the Turks happened just a month after President Weah returned from Turkey where he and President Erdogan discussed wide-ranging issues of multilateral and bilateral interests to both Liberia and Turkey covering areas of global peace and security, the consolidation of diplomatic ties, economic and security cooperation as well as education and business links between both countries. 

President Weah’s visit to Turkey in March this year succeeded two informal meetings he had had with President Erdogan in Lome, Togo, and Dakar, Senegal.

The Executive Mansion reported that President Erdogan stressed the need for the improvement in diplomatic relations between Liberia and Turkey through the establishment of embassies in both Capitals. 

“Liberia is very strategic and important and Turkey is keen to deepen our relations with your country in many areas that will be of mutual benefits”, President Erdogan asserted. 

He added, “We want to increase our investments and interests in Liberia through the establishment of a joint commission that will explore areas of mutual security, business, trade, and education”. 

President Weah welcomed the thoughts of Turkish investments in Liberia and said the establishment of formal diplomatic missions between Monrovia and Ankara which he said will lead to greater areas of cooperation between both countries. 

He said the current trend of Turkish Business investments in Liberia was encouraging and called for an enhancement in economic ties between both countries. 

The Liberian Leader requested Turkey’s Assistance in the areas of Security, Infrastructure- including roads, housing, electricity, and education with an emphasis on technical and vocational education and training for the many unskilled youths of Liberia. 

Liberian Delegation Off to Turkey Soon

FrontPageAfrica has seen a diplomatic note from Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its counterpart in Turkey announcing the visitation of a 16-man Liberian delegation to Turkey to continue the discussions initiated by both Presidents and possibly consummate those discussions from April 30 to May 6.

The delegation, according to the diplomatic note, the discussions between the Liberian delegation and the Turkish officials, include the opening of embassies in both Ankara and Monrovia, adding Monrovia as a route to Turkish Airlines; logistical support to the AFL and other security apparatus.

Others include the resumption of Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) projects in Liberia with focus on infrastructures – road construction and affordable housing units for the poor in rural and urban areas.

The delegation would also be negotiating provision of electricity, establishment of Liberian Diplomacy Forum, construction of new building to host Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and direct budgetary support to enable the Liberian government meet pressing national needs, among others.

The Erdogan government has since 2016 tried to get the Liberian government to close down the Turkish-Liberia Light International School which is believed to have links to Movement of Erdogan’s exiled rival Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen has been in exile in Pennsylvania, United States since 1999.

The political conflict between the AKP-ruled Turkish government and the Gülen movement of Fethullah Gülen began in 2013.

With similarities in ideology, the AKP and the Gülen Movement have long maintained an alliance, with the latter using their judicial influence to limit opposition from Turkey’s secular establishment to the AKP’s religious conservatism. Traditionally cosy relations between the AKP government and the Gülen Movement turned sour in late 2013 after Gülen criticised the government’s response to the Gezi Park protests and their policy of closing down Gülen’s private “prep-schools”.

The disagreement between the government and the movement escalated into a skirmish, with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing the Gülen Movement of trying to bring down the government by using their influence over the judiciary to cause a government corruption scandal (known as the 17-25 investigations due to the dates on which it occurred).

The government subsequently responded with large-scale reforms to the police and judiciary forces to purge Gülen’s sympathisers from their positions. The conflict has been referred to as a coup attempt by pro-AKP commentators and as a purge of judicial independence by critics.

Branding the movement as a ‘parallel structure’ and accusing Gülen of setting up an ‘armed terrorist group’, the government’s efforts to purge the influence of the Gülen Movement has become a mainstream issue in Turkish politics and has sparked nationwide concerns over judicial independence and growing government authoritarianism in Turkey.

It can be recalled that in 2017, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, during a one-day visit to Liberia said the school does not represent the interests and aspirations of the Government and people of Turkey. He, therefore, appealed to the Government of Liberia to remove the management (at the time) of the school.

His call to the Liberian government came barely a year after the failed coup in Turkey which was linked to the founder of the Light International School in Liberia and schools in many other countries by the Turkish government.

Liberia’s Foreign Minister at the time, Madam Marjon Kamara, said the Government had no evidence or facts on the matter. As such, Government committed to launch an investigation to determine the veracity of the allegations levied against the school and its proprietors.

It came as a surprise to the local staff at the school how their foreign counterparts were ransacked and flown out of the country.

Neither the Liberia Immigration Service nor the Ministry of Education were aware of the deportation of the Turkish educators.

There has been no official statement from the Government of Liberia regarding the deportation, but security sources say they were linked to terrorism, terrorist financing, illegal acquisition of passports from Azerbaijan and money laundering.

FrontPageAfrica has not been able to independently verify these allegations.

Those deported include: the principal and general manager, Roman Mamedov, head of primary section, Mrs. Mamedov; English teacher and accountant, Elvin Rahimov; Mrs. Rahimov; Moral Education Teacher and Vice President for Administration Mehmet Simsek; Mrs. Ramazan. Ceray, Esma, a little girl in 6th grade and Enest, a boy in pre-primary section.