Saturday Links: Turkey and Sudan, Niger and the EU, Clinton and Western Sahara

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been invited to the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting in Istanbul on Monday, and the EU is not happy with Turkey.

The one-day summit will add to growing concerns in some Western capitals that Turkey, an important regional ally of Washington, is shifting away from its pro-Western foreign policy and embracing countries such as Iran and Syria, while distancing itself from friend Israel.

“I think this summit will put Turkey again on the frontline, both in regards with Iran and Bashir,” said Hugh Pope, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group.

That concern was laid bare open on Friday after President Abdullah Gul, asked about a request from Brussels that Turkey drop Bashir from the guest list, said: “What are they interfering for? This is a meeting being held in the framework of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. It is not a bilateral meeting.”

Meanwhile, the EU has frozen development aid to Niger and given the African nation a one-month ultimatum to “start democracy talks.” Reports about a border closing between Nigeria and Niger have also surfaced, though it’s hard to tell what exactly is going on.

In other Niger news, will the Tuareg peace deal spur tourism?

In Morocco this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told leaders that the Obama administration will continue George Bush’s policy of supporting UN mediation for the Western Sahara dispute.

Political observers here say Rabat generally believes that U.S. administrations led by the Democratic Party are more sympathetic to the separatist POLISARIO movement and are therefore more likely to push for a vote on self-determination within U.N. mediation efforts.

But Secretary Clinton made clear that President Obama is pursuing the same track as President George W. Bush in setting no preconditions about how U.N. mediation might best resolve the issue.

And, last but not least, a spate of Somalia news:

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