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Opinion and Editorial

Turkey should stay out of Libya

Christiane Waked
Filed on February 2, 2020 | Last updated on February 2, 2020 at 07.10 pm

The Ottoman empire was a war-machine that built its glories on the blood of innocent people.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has no regard for international law. Turkey, a Nato member, has defied global conventions time and again to achieve its ambitions.

First, the Turkish government invaded Syria and dislodged Kurds and Christian minorities from their homes, and now Erdogan is sending Syrian mercenaries to Libya - a move that will create further divisions in the country that has been marred with conflict and instability for some time.

Recently, in a long interview on the Turkish television, Akit TV, Ahmed Karmo Shihabi, leader of the pro-Turkish Syrian National Army, was asked if they would go and fight in Libya. He replied in the affirmative. Later in the same interview, Shihabi went on to say, "We are ready to go to jihad anywhere, we will not stop ... our souls and children ... in exchange for the Ottoman caliphate."

The Ottoman empire was a war-machine that built its glories on the blood of innocent people. By the looks of it, the mercenaries that Turkey is hiring are as much bloodthirsty fighters as the Ottomans were back then. And like them, these mercenaries are unlikely to show any mercy on the ground.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the process of transferring mercenaries from Syrian lands to the Libyan territory. The process of registering the names of those wishing to go to Libya to fight for $2000 per terrorist continues. And about 2,400 mercenaries have recently reached Tripoli.

Ankara is supporting and funding these mercenaries to fight Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces in Libya. They get paid an average salary of $2,000, Turkish nationality, and medical care.

This makes Ankara a recruiter, trainer, and a sponsor of mercenaries at a time when Turkish economy needs more support of the government. Turkey is at high risk of attracting US sanctions over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system. According to Russia's Tass news agency, the Russian government has recently sent 120 missiles to Turkey for its S-400 system. Erdogan government has been funding its Libyan operation using the tax revenue collected from the Turkish population at a time when it should be pumped back into the Turkish economy.

In 2001, the United Nations Mercenary Convention treaty prohibited the recruitment, training, use, and financing of mercenaries.

Ankara has been violating the sovereignty of Libya, a country that is considered an open door to Europe. Any conflict there would have a direct bearing on the safety and security on the continent. Lone wolf attacks in Europe could give Erdogan a chance to play the game to his own benefit and seek funding for the buffer zone in northeast Syria.

It is no secret to anyone that Turkey has economic and strategic reasons to interfere in Libya and secure access over Libya's rich resources especially oil. Turkey has also signed an agreement with Fayez Al Sarraj government that allows it to assert rights over large areas in the eastern Mediterranean, which is rich in hydrocarbons.

Fayez Al Sarraj government despite having an official status is backed by many militias who are nurtured by Muslim Brotherhood ideology and thus have the full support of Erdogan's government.

If the world doesn't pay attention closely, not only will it repeat Syria's mistakes by creating a long costing war in Libya but soon will open hell's door to Europe and could spark terrorist attacks.

Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut



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