Turkey may again create a headache for Europe. While Ankara is pursuing a blackmail strategy in the West, threatening to let migrants into Europe, it is turning Libya into a terrorist rear base by transferring militants from Idlib and northern Syria to Tripoli, like reported by eureporter.co.
Turkey’s regular intervention in Libyan politics once again raises the issue of the neo-Osmanist threat, which will affect not only the stability of the North African region, but also the European one. Given that Recep Erdogan, by trying on the role of sultan, allows himself to blackmail Europeans by intimidating the influx of migrants. This destabilization of northern Africa may also lead to a new wave of migration crisis.
The key problem, however, is Turkey’s strained relations with its allies. The situation in the region is largely determined by the strained relations between Turkey and Russia. Given the diametrically different interests in both Syria and Libya, we can talk about a weakening of cooperation between the states: it is not so much like a stable alliance, but rather a complex game of two long-standing frenemies, with periodic attacks and scandals against each other.
The cooling of relations is illustrated in the second part of the Russian film “Shugaley”, which highlights Turkey’s neo-Osmanist ambitions and its criminal links with the GNA. The central characters of the film are Russian sociologists who were kidnapped in Libya and who Russia is trying to bring back to their homeland. The importance of the return of sociologists is discussed at the highest level, in particular, this problem was raised by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in June 2020 during a meeting with a delegation from the Libyan GNA.
The Russian side is already openly criticizing Turkey’s role in Libya, as well as emphasizing the supply of terrorists and weapons to the region. The authors of the movie express hope that Shugaley himself is still alive, despite constant torture and human rights violations.
The plot of “Shugaley” covers several topics painful and inconvenient for the Government: torture in Mitiga prison, an alliance of terrorists with the government of Fayez al-Sarraj, the permissiveness of pro-government militants, the exploitation of resources of Libyans in the interests of a narrow circle of elites.
Depending on Ankara’s wishes, the GNA pursues a pro-Turkish policy, while Recep Erdogan’s forces are increasingly integrated into the government’s power structures. The film speaks transparently about mutually beneficial cooperation – the GNA receives weapons from the Turks, and in return, Turkey realizes its neo-Ottomanist ambitions in the region, including the economic benefits of rich oil deposits.
“You are from Syria, aren’t you? So you’re a mercenary. You fool, it wasn’t Allah who sent you here. And the big guys from Turkey, who really want Libyan oil. But you don’t want to die for it. Here they send idiots like you here,” says Sugaley’s main character to a militant working for the GNA criminal agencies. On the whole, all this just illustrates the reality: In Libya, Turkey is trying to promote the candidacy of Khalid al-Sharif, one of the most dangerous terrorists close to al-Qaeda.
This is the root of the problem: in fact, al-Sarraj and his entourage – Khalid al-Mishri, Fathi Bashaga, etc. – are selling the country’s sovereignty so that Erdogan can quietly continue to destabilize the region, strengthen terrorist cells and benefit – while at the same time jeopardizing security in Europe. The wave of terrorist attacks in European capitals from 2015 is something that could happen again if northern Africa is filled with terrorists. Meanwhile, Ankara, in violation of international law, claims a place in the EU and receives funding.
At the same time, Turkey regularly intervenes in the affairs of European countries, strengthening its lobby on the ground. For example, a recent example is Germany, where the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is investigating four suspected supporters of the Turkish right-wing extremist “Grey Wolves” in the country’s armed forces.
The German government has just confirmed in response to a request from the Die Linke party that Ditib (“Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute of Religion”) is cooperating with extreme Turkish-oriented “Grey Wolves” in Germany. The response from the German Federal Government referred to cooperation between Turkish extreme right extremists and the Islamic umbrella organization, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute of Religion (Ditib), which operates in Germany and is controlled by the Turkish state body, the Office of Religious Affairs (DIYANET).
Would it be an appropriate decision to allow membership of the EU to Turkey, which by means of blackmail, illegal military supplies and integration into the structures of power, the army and intelligence is trying to strengthen its position both in northern Africa and in the heart of Europe? The country that is not able even to cooperate with its allies like Russia?
Europe must reconsider its attitude towards Ankara’s neo-Osmanist policy and prevent the continuation of blackmail – otherwise the region risks facing a new terrorist era.