Kenya and Turkey are natural partners but also an odd couple. Although both are fledgling democracies with rapidly growing economies and populations, and facing similar security concerns emanating from transnational terrorism, Turkey is a medium-size country while Kenya is a relatively small state. Turkish-Kenyan relations have grown rapidly over the last two decades raising three questions, which this study attempts to answer: What is the scope of this relationship and how does it offer a viable alternative to East/West partners? ; What explains the burgeoning relationship between Kenya and Turkey? ; What can both countries do to strengthen this budding relationship, or, in the alternative, what can undermine it? This study argues that a combination of domestic factors and leadership in both countries undergird increasing Turkish-Kenyan relations. These factors help explain Turkey’s spearheading of a diplomatic, economic and strategic charm offensive that dovetailed with Kenya’s search for alternative geo-strategic and trade partners. Kenya’s and Turkey’s search and their accompanying “discovery” of one another has led to a robust relationship based on shared interests in diplomacy, trade and security. However, both countries will need to gain a greater understanding of one another and compromise in areas such as tariffs and export quotas for this relationship to prosper and to be sustainable.
Key words: Kenya, Turkey, international political economy, diplomacy, trade, international relations, terrorism, security, east and west alternatives, emerging powers.
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