Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Joachim Veliocas
Joachim Veliocas

Turkey sends weapons & mercenaries to Libya

Friday 03/January/2020 - 06:09 PM

Turkey enjoys complete immunity with regard to the Libyan scene, despite the two-year arms embargo; Turkey has sent weapons to the Islamic brigades supports Fayez al-Sarraj.

In December 2018, 3,000 Turkish-made machine guns with four million bullets were founded in a container at the commercial port of Al-Khums.

In January 2019, a shipment of 556 boxes, each containing 36 Turkish rifles, was founded in a ship believed to contain toys in the port of Misurata.

At the end of December, unknown sources at Tripoli's Airport witnessed movements of fighters from Turkey on unregistered flights.

According to various sources contacted by Radio France International (RFI), the Libyan Airlines (Afriqiyah Airways) and Libyan Wings Airlines, owned by Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a jihadist residing in Turkey, have transported these fighters from Turkey to Tripoli. Their goal: to lend a hand to Islamic militias loyal to the National Accord government.

Between 27 and 29 December 2019, four planes landed at the "Meteja" airport, where they sent Syrian fighters from the pro-Ankara brigades.

"We, the Free Army, have come to defend Islam in Libya," said a Syrian accent fighter in one of the videos demonstrating the presence of mercenaries in Libya.

These mercenaries belong to the brigades operating in Syria, called Sultan Murad and al-Hazm or al-Mu'tasim Division, which pays seductive wages ($ 2,000 per month) and have been unemployed since the fighting in the pro-Turkish division around Afrin was frozen.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the National Accord government, in an embarrassing manner, denied the presence of these Syrian fighters in Libya, saying that the video was filmed in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

However, some Libyan civil society activists note elements in the video indicating that it was filmed in Libya near the "Tikbali" military camp recently seized by opponents of Khalifa Haftar's forces.

Moreover, Turkey itself has confirmed its dispatch of these forces. A counselor to the President of Turkey notes that the shipment "has been planned". The same tone came from many high-ranking Turkish sources interviewed by Reuters news agency.

According to these sources, Ankara is "considering sending Syrian militias to Libya, and the matter is under discussion." he emphasized that "the matter is under consideration and meetings are organized around it," and these sources add the following: "This is the current trend."

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Radio France International that at least 500 Syrian fighters are already in Libya. A thousand others were transferred to Turkey, and thus they will be sent to "Tripoli".

He explained that "registration offices are open to fighters who wish to go and fight in Libya, in the areas under Turkish occupation in northern Syria, and specifically in the Afrin region.

Now, we are sure that the fighters belonging to the so-called" national army "loyal to Turkey They have been moved to Libya. There are at least 500 fighters who are already in Libya. Hundreds of others are preparing to go there. Indeed, they are mercenaries only because they are fighting outside Syria, in the service of Turkey, not for a cause but just for the money ".

What about Turkish soldiers?

Consequently, the deployment of the Turkish army, approved by its parliament on January 2, will largely depend on these mercenaries who were imported from the Syrian theater as was the case in northern Syria.

The Turkish army will limit itself to playing an advisory role only, especially since Russia and the United States will have a very negative impact on the direct presence of Turkish soldiers, who risk suffering great losses in light of the quality of the forces, Major General Haftar and the dependence on about 800 elite mercenaries from Wagner. And the financial cost of mercenaries is really heavy for Turkey, which has fragile financial resources.

The tacit agreement, again, will be Erdogan's goal: to use this pressure in Libya to gain more territory in Syria, or, more ambitiously, to freeze the attack on the city of Idlib. It can be imagined that Ankara would benefit from its indirect intervention by obtaining increased freedom of drilling in the White Sea between Cyprus and Libya.

Europe continue to monitor and comment on it only without any decisive role in this file, despite the presence of some French special forces responsible for gathering intelligence information, whose presence was accepted last summer by "Paris" after the death of three agents of the General Directorate of Security Foreign office in Libya.