February 4, 2020

01-04 FEBRUARY Arabic language media highlights By Barry Webb

ERDOGAN VISITS THREE AFRICAN COUNTRIES

Last week on this site we reported that Turkish President Erdogan visited Algeria in an attempt to get its support for his efforts in Libya. The pro-Muslim Brotherhood and Qatari-owned al-Jazeera TV had reported at that time that Erdogan had received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic welcome, whereas the anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi-owned al-Arabiyya TV had reported that Erdogan had only received a “proper” reception.

This weekend (Jan. 30-02 Feb.), the al-Jazeera website www.aljazeera.net published an in depth essay on Erdogan’s Algerian visit while only briefly mentioning that he also visited two other African countries, Gambia and Senegal, on his current African itinerary. The sum of the results of his Algerian visit were that the two sides signed some trade agreements, but Erdogan failed to obtain the rubber stamp approval for his actions in Libya that he was seeking. Not only that, but the Algerians issued a statement that contained a thinly veiled rebuke of Erdogan:

Because Algeria as a nation has a long border with Libya it will never tolerate
and will never allow the occupation of that country and its administration by proxy. Those who have taken advantage of that vacuum to establish their
occupation had better think again from here on out, because Algeria is
back and it will be present at the same level that Turkey is.

However, after Erdogan returned to Ankara from his Africa trip he issued a statement that he had asked the new Algerian President ‘Abd al-Majeed Taboun for the documents proving that France killed 5,000,000 Algerians during their occupation. Erdogan, in his statement said that he told the Algerian president that French president Macron knows nothing about that massacre so he needs to be reminded of what France did in Algeria.

The office of the Algerian president then accused Erdogan of taking the words of the Algerian president (apparently expressed during their meeting) out of context and that Erdogan had no right to intrude himself into an issue that is extremely sensitive for Algeria, and that muddies the waters between France and Algeria as they are trying to heal past memories.

A guest on al-Arabiyya TV opined that Erdogan intentionally dug up that old wound because France and Turkey are on opposite sides in the Libyan civil war.

ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN STATES

On 31 January al-Arabiyya TV reported on a meeting of African leaders in Brazzaville, Congo, where the attendees issued a strongly worded message to Turkey criticizing its support of terrorism including ISIS, in Libya, Mali, and Burkino Faso.

TURKEY HARBORING TERRORISTS

On 31 January 2020 both al-Arabiyya TV and its sister site www.alarabiya.net reported a story on Turkey’s harboring of terrorists. According to this reporting, in addition to Turkey’s role in arming the militias in Libya it permits the heads of terrorist groups and their leaderships who are wanted suspects to live on Turkish soil in spite of the fact that some of them are on international lists for terrorism.

General Ahmad al-Mismari, the spokesman for Gen. Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) was quoted by al-Arabiyya saying that among these terrorist that Turkey supports and shelters on its soil are Khalid Nassaraat whose movement name is “Abu al-Yaqdhan” and who belongs to the “Libyan Fighting Group” which is listed as a terrorist organization. This individual is also connected with support for al-Qaeda and was one of those involved in the Manchester arena attack in Britain in 2017 which resulted in killing 23 people and injuring 119 others.

Turkey is also hosting the terrorist Basheer al-Faqhi whose movement name is “Abu ‘abd ar-Rahman al-Faqhi. This individual is a member of al-Qaeda as well as acting as a leader of the “Libyan Fighting Group.” Turkey is also hosting Salim Jaber who is a member of the ansar ash-shari’a (champions of Shari’a), and whose movement name is “Ash-Shaykh Salim.” He is a leader (amir) of the “Mosque of the companions of Muhammad” cell and is accused of recruiting terrorists to send to Syria, and is also accused of killing the American Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi. He is also known to be in close with Qatar, a huge supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The al-Arabiyya report added that Salim has been a controversial religious figure in Libya going back to the Qadhafi era when he was held for five years for delivering rabble rousing sermons. Today in Libya he is described as one of the “bugles of dissension who calls for terrorism.” He is on the terrorist watch list of four Arab countries.

COMMENT: These four Arab countries were not named but probably refers to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain, the four Arab countries that have taken the most active roles against the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and al-Qaeda.

The alarabiya.net report also went on to say that Ashraf bin Isma’il is currently residing safe and sound in Turkey. He is a businessman and a financier of terrorist organizations. He is accused of pilfering three billion dollars from the Libyan central bank. In 2010 the UN had him closely associated with the ansar ash-shari’a in Benghazi.

Also residing in Turkey is Khalid al-‘Umari, one of the leaders of the ansar ash-shari’a and a former fighter belonging to the ISIS forerunner “al-Qaeda in Iraq” organization headed by the notorious Mus’ab az-Zarqawi.

According to al-Arabiyya TV, the ansar ash-shari’a is one of the many groups that swore allegiance to ISIS during its heyday.

ANALYSIS:

After being gently, but properly in dipolmatic terms, rebuffed by both Tusisia and Algeria over his attempts to entice those two countries to support his expansionist plans against their next door neighbor, Libya, Erdogan returned to Ankara where he has made statements that Tunisia and Algeria support his efforts in Libya. This in turn has created an uproar in both countries, particularly Algeria where Erdogan’s statements have also tried to dig up old wounds regarding the period of French colonization.

So, why is Erdogan trying to create a row between Algeria and France? Because Macron’s France is the sole western power on the planet that has dared to stand up to Erdogan’s Hitlerian schemes. First France has joined Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE in providing limited aid to Haftar’s LNA against the “internationally recognized” terrorist regime in Tripoli which is supported by Turkey. Also, more recently France has sent naval craft to the Aegean Sea region to protect Greece and Cyprus from Turkey’s ambitions.

Much has been said in the world media, including the Arabic Media and the U.S. media, about Erdogan’s continuing to send arms, including tanks and other heavy equipment, regular troops, and mercenaries from Syria and elsewhere into Libya even while agreeing with world leaders in Berlin about banning all foreign intervention and arming of either of the sides in Libya. What these media figures and world leaders don’t understand about Erdogan, is that he does not believe that his meddling in Libya counts as “foreign” intervention. In Erdogan’s mind, all of the Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa and the Levant are not really independent countries. They are merely provinces of the Old Ottoman empire and therefore mere provinces in the neo-Ottoman empire. Erdogan can’t help it if these countries just don’t recognize that fact yet.

MORE REFLECTIONS ON SOLAIMANI’S DEMISE

The Saudi-owned al-Arabiyya TV donated a full half-hour to this week-end’s sin’at
al-mawt show to the demise of Iran’s al-quds leader Qasim Solaimani. One of the guests interviewed (an Arabic-speaking authority on Iran) stressed the importance of Qasim Solaimani to the Iranian regime as the number two guy behind Khameini. His official position was just head of the al-quds division of the IRGC, and theoretically he should have been answering to the head of the IRGC, since al-Quds was under the IRGC. But in reality he was above his “boss on paper” and answered only to Khameini.

In addition, he was Foreign Minister extradordinaire. The countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen were entirely under his supervision. He appointed the ambassadors to those countries, and those ambassadors answered to him, not to Iran’s “official” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Significantly, the protests and demonstrations currently taking place in Lebanon and Iraq are against Iran and the political parties that Iran has set up to run those countries. And, while there was a moment of euphoria and dancing in the streets with the death of Solaimani, and while the loss of Solaimani was a blow to the regime, strategically, emotionally, and in terms of their prestige, Iran’s project will continue. The guy replacing him might not be as good, but the project will continue.

ONE BIT OF GOOD NEWS

The Nile Valley countries of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss water-sharing agreements in light of Ethiopia’s in-progress construction of the “renaissance” high dam on the Blue Nile.

The Blue Nile originates in Northern Ethiopia, winds around a bit, then heads straight towards Khartoum, Sudan where it joins the White Nile. The combined Nile then flows straight north through Egypt to empty into the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt, whose 100 million people depend entirely on the Nile’s water, has feared that this new super dam in Ethiopia would deprive it of this live-giving necessity.

Ethiopia has countered that it needs the dam (which is being built only a few miles from the Sudanese border) to produce badly needed electrical power to bring its 109 million people into the modern age. Ethiopia has also claimed that since the dam is primarily only for the production of electric power, it will not reduce the amount of water flow downstream. The problem, though, is that there will be a reduction of water flow until the dam is completely filled which might take anywhere from 5 to 15 years.

Meanwhile, Egypt claims that it needs 90% of the Nile’s flow, not the 66% that they’ve been getting.

Sudan, not as water-starved as is Egypt, is caught in the middle between those two neighbors, but of course, it too will be effected by any cut off in the flow of Blue Nile water from Ethiopia. Sudan will also be affected if Egypt continues to demand 90% of the Nile’s flow.

The bit of good news here is that popular Egyptian talk show host ‘Amru Adeeb, during his Friday night al-hakaya (the story) show on MBC-Egypt gave lots of good love to President Trump for his intervention in trying to bring the parties together to hammer out an agreement satisfactory to all.

This could be a diplomatic success for the Trump administration totally ignored by the U.S. media.

MORE SAUDI ANIMOSITY TOWARDS THE TURKS

Host Sarah Dhumbdhawi during her 02 February edition of tafaa’lkom on al-Arabiyya TV reported on some important artifacts that the Ottomans stole from Medina at the end of WWI.

To give some background to this issue for readers, a little history is in order, because there is lots of bad blood between the Saudis and the Turks. Late in the 18th century the Saudis expanding from central Arabia took over the Hijaz in western Arabia where the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located. While there, they destroyed the prophet Muhammad’s alleged tomb, and the alleged tomb of Eve, which ticked off a lot of non-Wahhabis in the Islamic world.

Then, early in the 19th century, the Saudis invaded Iraq and began destroying tombs there as well. The Turks, then using proxies, drove the Saudis out of Arabia entirely forcing the lone survivor of the family to hole up in Kuwait. Later in the century, and in the beginning of the 20th century, the Saudis made a rebound, retaking Riyadh in 1902. By the time WWI started they had recaptured nearly all of the peninsula except for the Hijaz region which was held by the Ottoman Turks.

During WWI the Saudis naturally sided with the British against the Ottomans, and shortly after WWI they recaptured all of the Hijaz. Now, according to Ms. Dhamdhawi’s report on her show, as the Ottomans withdrew they pilfered numerous artifacts which the Saudis say go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. The Saudis immediately complained and the British even got into the act by trying to convince the Turks to give back the artifacts. The Turks, even though defeated, refused, and there it stood. And, there it still stands today to add one more layer to the deep historical animosity between the Saudis and the Turks.

This historical animosity factor is coming more into play as the Turks continue their efforts to recreate the Ottoman Empire Caliphate, and to use proxies to cause mayhem throughout the Levant and North Africa.

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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

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