ERDOGAN SETS STAGE FOR LIBYA INVASION
This past week Turkey’s President Erdogan stirred another hornets’ nest with his claim that there are 1,000,000 Turks living in Libya (total population 5,000,000)–the implication being that he has the right to defend those “Turks” should the need arise.
This should remind all foreign policy wonks of 1974. The island of Cyprus had been Greek for 3,000 years. The Islamist Ottoman Caliphate began staging jihad raids on the island in the 15th century, finally conquering the entire island in the 16th. It was formally annexed into the Ottoman Empire in 1571 where it remained until 1878 when the British took it over.
During the period of the Ottoman occupation it remained mostly Greek demographically, but the Ottoman Turks inserted Turkish peoples into cities and villages they had ethnic-cleansed of Greeks. The Turks were mostly concentrated in the northern part of the island. After WWI, Cyprus became an independent nation with a Greek majority and a Turkish minority. The British maintained military bases in a pair of “military districts” on the southern and eastern coasts of the island which they continue to operate today.
In the early 1970s the Greek-speaking majority of the island’s citizens began to push for a “re-unification” with their mother country, Greece. This enraged the Turks, and so in 1974 when the U.S. President (Nixon) was distracted by impeachment inquiries, Turkey launched a full scale invasion of the island by land, sea, and air.
Establishing a beachhead on the northern part of the island, the Turks, using Turkish-speaking people already living on the island as a 5th column, proceeded to rape and exterminate as many Greeks as they could get their hands on, while looting private properties, churches, etc.
These actions by Turkey put NATO in an embarrassing situation because both Turkey and Greece were members of NATO. Nonetheless, international pressure was able to obtain a cease fire, but the end result was a huge win-win for Turkey–mostly due to the U.S. and its European allies believing that Turkey was a stronger ally vis-à-vis the Soviet Union than militarily weak Greece was. So, what Turkey won from this illegal invasion and genocide was:
One: No unification between Cyprus and Greece, and . . .
Two: Possession of about 1/3 of the island’s real estate. This large chunk of Cyprus was located in the north, where most of the Turks live, and which had been ethnic cleansed of Greeks. The Turks then declared this pilfered piece of an independent nation to be another “independent” nation they called “The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” This entity is recognized only by Turkey, so it is essentially a province, or colony, of Turkey. It’s total population is 326,000.
It remains as a large beachhead to facilitate a future conquest of the rest of the island for whenever Turkey believes that it can get away with it, and the certain genocide of the remaining Greeks that would result from the conquest.
REGION’S PEOPLES NOT SO BLIND
While Americans may be totally oblivious to history, the people of the Middle East and the East Mediterranean are not. They recognize Erdogan’s claim of a “million Turks” in Libya to be a naked prelude for conquest and annexation to his imaginary Neo-Ottoman Empire–hence the uproar over Erdogan’s latest.
Gen. Ahmad Mismari, the spokesman for Gen. Haftar’s Libyan National Army initially claimed (in reports aired on al-arabiyya TV) that Fayez Sirraaj, the head of the Tripoli “government,” is of Turkish ancestry as a way to discredit his legitimacy and to make the point that the Sirraaj “government” and those who support it are supporting a Turkish occupation of Libya. Later in the week Gen. Mismari switched gears after Erdogan’s “million Turks” claim made the rounds.
Now Gen. Mismari is saying that Libya is a mixture of ethnicities with some coming from Arabia, some from Iraq, some from the Levant, as well as the Amazaghs (original Berber population), and later the Ottomans. He then tried to make the point that anyone born and raised in Libya, is a Libyan, regardless of where their ancestors came from, and Erdogan’s efforts of claiming a million Turks is an attempt to sow ethnic discord.
Erdogan has repeatedly said that he would send troops and intervene in Libya only if “Libya” requested such aid. Sirraaj has already made that request, so Erdogan now says that if the Turkish parliament agrees, he will come to Libya’s aid (meaning the Sirraaj “government” in Tripoli). That parliamentary decision is supposed to take place in January. Erdogan’s AKP controls the parliament, so one would assume that the decision will be a rubber stamp affair depending upon Erdogan’s wishes at the time. And, Erdogan’s wishes at the time might hinge on the sort of international push back he gets from his “million Turk” claim, and other hints at a Turkish invasion/takeover of Libya.
Were the U.S. and Russia both to come down hard on Erdogan’s hint at a Libya incursion, he would probably have his parliament vote no, giving himself a face saving way out. However, failing that unified international resistance Erdogan would probably go ahead.
Russia, which has 1,000 Russian “contract” warriors (which it denies sending, and which the Arabic media of all strips calls murtizeqa (“mercenaries”) aiding Gen. Haftar’s forces, and has aided the Haftar faction in terms of training and equipment, has already expressed its displeasure at Erdogan’s Libya moves. But, it is doubtful that Putin would invest regular Russian military in the venture, as it has done in Syria, without a green light from the U.S., as well as a direct request from General Haftar and the Libyan parliament in exile in Tobruk. With the American administration having shown a subservience to Erdogan’s wishes and demands in a number of instances, and Turkey being a part of NATO, and all that applies, and the U.S. president distracted by impeachment issues (like Nixon in 1974), the chance of anything more than ambivalence from the Americans is remote.
Faced with these factors, Putin would likely turn back and wash his hands of the 1,000 Russian “mercenaries” serving in Libya. In this atmosphere, we should expect Erdogan to pull a Cyprus on Libya, and at the very least “protecting” (i.e. annexing) the areas currently under the control of the Sirraaj government and its terrorist allies in Tripoli, Sirte, and Missrata.
On 26 December 2019, al-arabiyya TV reported that Russian President Putin was totally angry at Erdogan for his intentions to send troops to Libya. In fact, he was so angry that he cancelled the scheduled early January meeting between the two (when they were supposed to reach some sort of accommodation like they did regarding Syria). According to the al-arabiyya report, Putin has said he does not even want to talk to Erdogan on the phone. He considers Erdogan’s Libya moves to be a violation of a “previous agreement.” But, is that enough to cause Russia to intervene directly? Stay tuned.
ERDOGAN VISITS TUNIS
As if sending signals of his intentions to invade and occupy Libya weren’t bad enough, Erdogan made a surprise, unannounced, visit to Tunisia on the 25th of December. And, the Tunisians were not amused. According to al-arabiyya TV, social media lit up with anger and derision directed at Erdogan, and there were demonstrations in the streets against his visit, and against Turkey’s intervention in Libya.
Erdogan probably over-estimated his welcome because the newly elected parliament in Tunisia is headed by the an-nahdhah party, which is the Tunisian version of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its President Qais Sa’eed is reputed to be at least somewhat favorable to Islamism. Turkey has also spent huge sums and many years producing soap operas glorifying the Ottoman imperial age which have been very popular in the Arab world. The purpose of these soap operas is, of course, to condition the Arab populaces to becoming psychologically receptive to a restoration of the Ottoman Empire Caliphate under Turkish leadership. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), of course, has the same dreams. In fact, the current international MB ideological/theological leader, Yusuf
al-Qaradhawi, has declared Erdogan to be the “best hope of the Muslims,” and virtually anointed him as Caliph, even if only rhetorically.
But what Erdogan failed to take into account was that the MB control of the Tunisian parliament is very tenuous, because they won only a very narrow plurality of the votes and seats, and do not have a majority. Also, just because people like their soap operas does not mean that they are ready to surrender their sovereignty back to the Turks once again.
Thus, Erdogan’s unannounced, sudden dropping in on Tunisia on Christmas day as if he already owned the place infuriated a lot of Tunisians. To add insult to injury accompanying Erdogan on this trip were not his economics and trade experts, but his minister of Defense and the head of Turkey’s intelligence agency (the MIT). Then, to pour more salt on the wound, Erdogan had his puppet, Fayez Sirraaj from Tripoli show up 15 minutes later, also unannounced. As if that were not enough, in Erdogan’s speech to the Tunisian people he said, “we are one people in two countries.” (Translation: Turks and Tunisians are both citizens of the Ottoman Empire, separated only by an historical mistake, but Tunisians have yet to recognize that fact.)
Regarding the “Libya”/Turkey agreement on the sea border between the two countries that Erdogan signed with his puppet head of the Tripoli “government,” Erdogan said that Greece has no reason to be concerned. In the meantime, a Turkish essay posted on the Arabic version of al-jazeera’s website claimed that Erdogan’s sea borders agreement with Libya, was a gift to Egypt (who has also complained about it) and to all of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. (Translation: The restoration of the Ottoman Empire to include all of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean area will be beneficial to all of those countries.)
On 28 December 2019, al-arabiya TV reported that Turkey has moved up its timetable for entering the Libyan war. Originally, the Turkish parliament was to discuss the Tripoli government’s request for intervention on 08 January 2020. However, that discussion has been moved up to 02 January 2020 per Erdogan’s request. Since Erdogan’s AKP party controls the parliament, his request to intervene directly in the Libyan war will likely receive parliament’s rubber stamp approval.
Also, on 28 December, al-arabiyya reported that ‘Aqeelah Salih, the head of the Libyan parliament (in exile in Tobruk) visited Cyprus to meet with the head of the Cypriot parliament who in turn supported Mr. Salih’s request that Europe and the international community should withdraw recognition of the Sirraaj government.
As anti-government protests continue to break out in Iran, and the death toll from the regime’s brutal crack-down efforts mount, Iran’s puppet “civilian mobilization” militias in Iraq have been continuing to direct live round sniper shots at demonstrators in Iraq. These Iranian-controlled units have also been lobbing missiles towards the U.S. embassy in the “green zone,” as well as U.S. military bases elsewhere in the country.
On 28 December 2020 al-arabiyya.net reported on the most serious infraction whereby one of these Iranian-supported attacks killed an American contractor and wounded a U.S. soldier. Senator Tom Cotton has called on the administration to respond militarily to Iran.
Erdogan’s Tunis visit was likely intended to achieve two things: One was to judge the Tunisians potential acceptance of being included in the resurrection of the Ottoman Empire. The other was to obtain Tunisian backing for the Sirraaj government and for the pending Turkish military incursion. Erdogan failed on all accounts. The only thing he got in the end was a Tunisian agreement to back a UN effort to settle the Libyan issue through diplomacy.
All of these recent moves by Erdogan, his upcoming invasion of Libya, his unannounced visit to Tunis, the Libyan-Turkish pact on “sea boundaries,” and his over-all increased aggressiveness in the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced to the U.S. administration giving him the green light to invade northern Syria, which is often compared to Neville Chamberlain’s giving Hitler the green light to invade a portion of Czechoslovakia.
Once you’ve given an expansionist meglomaniac an inch, he will take the next mile, and then the next . . .
Western leaders need to wake up to the fact that Erdogan is the Hitler of the 21st century. What is surprising is that Erdogan has never made it a secret what his ultimate intentions are. Even his small moves are always telegraphed for those wise enough to read the signals. Let us count the ways:
There is an Islamic prophecy in the ahadeeth that says that the Islamic conquest of Constantinople will open the door for the final war between Islam and the West, where “Rum” (the West) will be destroyed by the true believers to prepare the way for the return of Jesus Christ, “the breaking of the cross,” the opening of the graves and the final judgment day.
Constantinople was conquered by the Muslim Turks in 1453 and that did not lead to the final war between Islam and the West. Nor did the West fall, but instead, continued to progress economically, technologically, and militarily leaving the Turks and the rest of Islam far behind as they continued to wallow in backwardness.
These facts of history have caused great consternation to Muslims for the past several hundreds of years, and represents a huge conundrum on how to interpret that Constantinople prophecy. 1994 Erdogan provided the answer to that conundrum. Upon his election to the mayoralty of Istanbul (which is the Turkish pronunciation of Constantinople) he claimed that “this is the reconquest) of Constantinople.”
By making this claim, Erdogan was identifying himself with that prophecy. This had to be apparent to any and all Muslims familiar with their own ahadeeth. It should have also been a warning to the entire West, because what Erdogan was saying in that one short sentence, was that Allah had chosen him to be the one who would lead the united Islamic world in that final war to destroy the West and pave the way for the “Last Days.”
The audacity of the man to make such a claim at that time, given that he “won” the mayoralty by a narrow plurality gaining only 25% of the vote and pocket change. But, that again, was another precursor to the audacity Erdogan has shown throughout his career, including his recent Syrian, Libyan, and Tunisian moves.
However, the MB did not think that Erdogan was out of line at all, as the MB, and the MB’s primary state sponsor, Qatar, have both pursued pro-Erdogan policies in this new century.
TERRORISM FROM SYRIAN KURDS CLAIM
Another example of Erdogan signaling his intent came this past year when he began complaining about “terrorism” coming from the Kurds in Syria and threatening Turkey’s national security. There was no such “terrorism” or national security threat, but Erdogan used that false claim, combined with the massing of troops in Turkey’s border with Syria, to gain concessions from the Trump administration.
The U.S. agreed to Turkey’s demands to enter Syria militarily by at first agreeing to “joint patrols” of the border region on the Syrian side of the border. The Turks used these “joint patrols” to gain intelligence about Kurdish positions and military strength. Then, Erdogan claimed that the joint patrols were just not working, and that Turkey had a right to “defend its national security.” This was then followed by a fateful phone call to U.S. President Trump asking (demanding?) that the U.S. clear out and let Turkey handle all of the security in northern Syria by itself. Trump, apparently anxious to reduce troop deployments anyway, readily agreed.
This is an example of the policies of “gradualism” that Erdogan has followed ever since he became the head of state.
This is why the head of the Libyan parliament (in exile in Tabruk) ‘Aqeelah Salih, knew right away that Erdogan’s claim of 1,000,000 Turks in Libya was just a ploy to justify a latter full scale invasion of Libya, as reported by al-arabiyya.net last week.
THE POLICY TOWARDS TURKEY WE SHOULD BE TAKING:
The dismantling of America’s military bases in Turkey should have been done in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union broke up (the sole enemy which provided a purpose for those military installations). The financial waste, and National Security uselessness of those installations became glaringly clear even to the dimmest light bulbs among us during our 2003 attacks against Iraq: Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to utilize those military assets against Saddam Hussein.
Yet, our political, military, and intelligence leaders refused to learn the lesson. The next wake-up call came in 2009 when Erdogan began purging his own military of “Kemal secularists.” Though Erdogan had been gradually instituting his re-Islamization policy of Turkey from the inside, this purge of secularists from Turkey’s military was the first externally visible evidence that Erdogan was beginning to act upon his belief that Allah had chosen him to be the fulfillment of prophecy by restoring Islam to Turkey as a prelude for restoring the Ottoman Empire Caliphate, and Turkey’s leading a united Islam in the final battle to destroy the West.
Yet, our political, military, and intelligence leaders failed to wake up to the wake up-call. The 2016 failed coup against Erdogan was used by Erdogan to complete his purge not only of all branches of the military, but of the civilian branches of the government, the educational system, the media, and all aspects of the society. This was yet another wake- up call.
Yet, our political, military, and intelligence leaders continue to keep their heads buried in the sand, or other unmentionable places. This “Cotard Delusion” syndrome (look it up) our leaders persist in wallowing in emboldens Erdogan to become ever more bold not only in terms of seizing more territory (Syria, Libya, Cyprus, etc.), but in revealing his intentions for the world to see–while visibly rubbing the West’s noses in it.
With all of this evidence piling up over the last two or three decades against the idea of maintaining any U.S. presence in Turkey, instead of heeding all of these wake-up calls, and warning bells . . . what does the U.S. administration do? Even as Turkey threatens to kick the U.S. out, our Department of Defense last week announced that it will spend $95,000,000.00 dollars over the next five years to upgrade the Incirlik base that Turkey will never let us use when we need it!
Every dime of that 95 million will go to Turkish companies, not to U.S. workers–and this while Congress is trying to place economic embargoes on Turkey for its genocide addictions.
Why not use that 95 million to build a military base in North Korea? Makes as much sense and would be just as useful.
GET EVERYBODY OUT NOW
Not only should we close down our military facilities, but we should pull all Americans out of Turkey, civilian, military, and diplomatic. Especially, we need to extract all 50 of the nuclear bombs we have stored in our airbase at Incirlik, Turkey–before Erdogan seizes them for himself. Erdogan has already publically claimed that Turkey must have nuclear weapons–another warning shot of his future intentions.
Then, we should kick Turkey out of NATO, close down our embassy and consulates . . . get everybody out now, given Turkey’s habit of holding westerners hostage whenever Erdogan is ticked off at the home country of said hostage.
Finally, we should arm the Syrian Kurds to the teeth, form a strategic alliance with Russia, and threaten to arm the Kurds in Turkey as well unless Turkey ceases its arming of terrorists in the Middle East and Africa.
On Libya, the U.S. needs to make up its mind whether it wants to continue being one of the top countries supporting terrorism, or the world’s leader in combating it. As the Libya situation escalates with ever more outside powers piling on, particularly with Russia and Turkey supporting opposite sides, the U.S. needs to take measures now to make sure that it does not get sucked into a war with Russia because of Turkey’s NATO membership, or because of the administration’s desire to sell Turkey F-35s.
A support for Turkey in any form, is a support for international terrorism. Coming to the aid of the Sirraaj government in Tripoli would put the U.S. in the position of defending the ISIS, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and ansaar ash-shari’a (supporters of the Shari’a) militias that Tripoli harbors. Fine anti-terror warriors we would be then.
Remember, Erdogan believes that he, and Turkey, were selected by Allah to unite the Muslims and lead them into the final war to destroy the West (yes, that means us, the U.S.A.). So, do we want to be the armourer of our own executioners? Wake up America!
Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform www.intelreform.org. He is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com