Table of Contents:
Turkey is Set to Send Troops to Libya: The Economist, Jan. 11, 2020
Turkey’s Hegemonic Bet: Neo-Ottomanism with Pan-Islamist Face: Tamba François Koundouno, Morocco World News, Jan 7, 2020
What Is Turkey To Us?: Angelo Codevilla, American Greatness, Jan. 8, 2020
Erdoğan’s ‘Quiet Jihad’: Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, Jan. 6, 2020
From weapons purchases to energy deals to Syria, the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have had no shortage of things to ponder in the past couple of years. At a meeting in Istanbul on January 8th, they added another to the menu, chewing over the war in Libya, into which Turkey had just waded. When they emerged, the two strongmen called for a ceasefire starting on January 13th.
Days before Mr. Putin’s arrival, Mr. Erdogan announced that Turkey had begun to send troops to Libya to shore up the country’s government, which has faced an insurgency led by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar and backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia. Mr Erdogan said Turkish soldiers would steer clear of combat and focus on co-ordination and training. Turkey’s aim, he said, was “not to fight” but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”. Turkish officials have not specified the scale of the mission. The best guess is that Turkey will send at least a few warships and fighter jets, plus some ground forces.
Turkey has already provided Libya’s embattled un-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) with weapons, including armed drones. Syrian mercenaries, poised to become the bulk of Mr Erdogan’s fighting force, have also begun operating in Libya. Nevertheless, on January 6th General Haftar’s forces announced they had captured Sirte. As he advances on Tripoli, Libya’s capital, Turkey hopes its deployment will tilt the balance in the GNA’s favour.
Turkey has plenty at stake in Libya. The gna’s survival and a return to relative stability would offer Turkish companies a chance to resume work on construction projects worth around $20bn that have been frozen since the fall of Libya’s dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011. Turkey would also be poised to help rebuild Libya’s institutions and its army, says Mustafa el-Sagezli, the head of a government programme to reintegrate militiamen into society. If the gna wins, “the doors of Libya are open to them,” he says.
Saving the gna would also beef up Turkey’s position in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean, where Mr Erdogan’s government has been isolated by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel. In November Turkey and the gna struck a maritime border deal that could frustrate plans by those four countries to export gas to Europe through an undersea pipeline. Turkish officials say the deal gives their country a decisive say in exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey previously raised the stakes by sending ships to drill for gas off the divided island of Cyprus, despite the eu’s threat of sanctions. The new maritime deal may be the price the desperate gna had to pay to enlist Turkey’s help. “Turkey would not be in Libya without it,” says Sinan Ulgen of edam, a think-tank in Istanbul. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
At a pan-Islamism and anti-Islamophobia-themed meeting, recently held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the initiative of Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, and Qatar, Turkey’s President Erdogan, ever the pertinent and cunning political communicator seized the occasion to broadcast to everyone who would listen what has become a driving principle (in spirit, at least) of his and contemporary Turkey’s foreign policy projections: saving the Arabo-Muslim world from the incessant, perennial onslaught of an essentially anti-Muslim global order.
In the Malaysian capital, Turkey spoke about resistance and the need for a robust Muslim fraternity so that the MENA region, of course under Turkey’s guidance, can rise to the security and socio-economic challenges of globalization and modernity.
Saving brothers in need
Erdogan’s message was clear: now is the time to revive pan-Islamism. This was later echoed by all participants of the small circle of countries who, by sprinkling their rhetoric with “Muslim unity” sonnets and giving their gathering a theme that could speak to Muslim sensibilities the world over, effectively styled themselves as the saviors, or the forerunners of a much-needed “Muslim coalition” to liberate the Muslim world from the apparently ensnaring grip of the West’s dominant, Judeo-Christian paradigm.
There is nothing new to such pan-Islamism-flavored rhetoric in Erdogan’s political communication toolkit. The Turkish leader has to some degree already effectively styled himself over the years as the “daring one” and the “Reis” (chief) who stands up to the West. But the Kuala Lumpur gathering came with a more consequential, even audacious, twist: the creation of a new economic system to extricate the Middle East and North Africa from the grasp of the all-mighty American dollar.
All this was merely a glimpse of Turkey’s regional ambitions as it looks to capitalize on the image of the selfless and sweetly paternalistic hegemon, primordially interested in safeguarding the wellbeing of “fellow Muslim” countries.
Days after the Malaysia meeting, on December 26, Erdogan announced Ankara’s plans to send troops to Libya to support the beleaguered Tripoli-based and internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in its struggle to fend off sustained attacks from the troops of General Khalifa Haftar.
The Turkish president said he was responding to an invitation from Tripoli as France, Italy, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, and Russia-backed Haftar, appearing to have the upper hand in the struggle for Libya, prepared to launch a “final assault” on the capital Tripoli. Ankara, once again the savior and the righteous voice in a volatile region long gone berserk, Erdogan suggested, was only legitimately flying to the rescue of the GNA, the rightful government of Libya.
To critics and regional foes—including Egypt and Greece, among others—who saw in the Turkish move a cause for concern and were quick to dismiss it as “a dangerous threat to regional stability,” Erdogan swiftly fired back by suggesting that Ankara’s intervention, requested by GNA, gave Turkey a legitimacy that other foreign troops involved in the conflict do not have. “They are helping a warlord. We are responding to an invitation from the legitimate government of Libya,” he said. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Turkish troops are landing in Libya with the mission of trying to ensure the survival of the government headed by Prime Minister Al Sarraj, besieged in Tripoli by the faction headed by General Khalifa Haftar, weakly supported by Italy, that now controls the rest of the country. Thus, does Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan intend to make the Sarraj government his puppet. This would bolster their November 2019 claim to sovereignty over the part of the Eastern Mediterranean through which the Eastmed pipeline is to deliver that region’s oil and gas bounty to Europe.
In the short term, Turkey is asserting sovereignty over a major source of Europe’s energy. In the long run, Erdoğan is trying to re-assert Turkish sovereignty over Libya, which its Ottoman Empire ruled until 1912.
As NATO Europe remains frozen in fear and impotence, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt signed an agreement on January 2 to coordinate political-military opposition to what Turkey is doing. Since Turkey is backing its diplomacy with force, the signatories have little choice but to take up the military challenge.
As of today, even though Russia is the prime beneficiary of the competing pipeline, Turkstream, Russia seems to be the only power that might restrain Turkey. Russia’s interest in fomenting Turkey’s ever-greater alienation from Europe and NATO is also clear.
Nevertheless, Russia has no interest in the Ottoman Empire’s renewal and is highly unlikely to enjoy the prospect of conflict between its new clients in Egypt and Israel on one side and Turkey on the other. Nor is Putin interested in impoverishing Europe. Hence, as Vladimir Putin meets with Erdoğan on January 8, it would not be surprising were Putin to exert some braking action on Erdoğan.
What is any of this to America? While nothing that is happening in the Mediterranean rises to the level of crisis or demands action, Americans should realize that we are no less happy than is Russia with the prospect of war in the Mediterranean and no friendlier to the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire. But the current U.S. policy of well-nigh reflexive support for “Turkey, our NATO ally” is encouraging Erdoğan, or at least is not restraining him.
In short, the time is long past for us to set aside the hopes that have blinded our policy toward Turkey during this century. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Palestinian Authority officials are calling the gift the Turkish government gave them a few years ago “the treasure.” The trove contains 140,000 pages of carefully arranged microfilm that could have a dramatic effect on Israel’s ability to hold onto a number of assets – land, and structures – throughout Israel, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The “treasure” is actually a copy of the Ottoman Archive and includes thousands of documents of land registration under the Ottoman Empire, which ruled what is now Israel from 1517-1917. The Palestinians see these documents as a game-changer in their battle with Israel over land. They have already used the archive to challenge Israeli ownership of land and real estate in various parts of the country.
The first complete copy of the valuable archive was placed in the building of the PA consulate in Ankara for fear that the Israelis would get their hands on it. In March of last year, a formal celebration marked the transfer of part of the archive to Bethlehem. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center documented the event, as well as the transfer of the archive in its entirety. But for some reason – even though the Palestinians now have a tool that could shake up the Israeli real estate market – the story has stayed under the radar.
To illustrate the possible ramifications of the Turkish move, we could compare it to a better-known incident in which the Greek Orthodox Church refused to extend leases on its extensive land holdings in Jerusalem. As a result, thousands of Jewish families in the capital are now living under the threat of being evicted from their homes.
A key figure at the ceremony in Bethlehem was Yousef Adais, minister of religious endowments in the PA, who was given the files that have to do with the Waqf’s properties in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. At the event, the Palestinians talked about the Israeli government’s so-called “attempts to falsify” history, and now, lawyers in east Jerusalem regularly consult the Ottoman Archive to determine property and land ownership. The documents help them in the legal battles they are waging over the ownership of land, especially in east Jerusalem.
One obvious example is the properties and plots in the Old City of Jerusalem that Jews and Arabs are battling over. The most famous is the Western Wall plaza, where the Mughrabi neighborhood used to stand. Israel evacuated and demolished it to lay down the broad plaza. That was land that Israel confiscated, but at least in terms of propaganda, brandishing the deeds to it could be a big embarrassment for Israel. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Newly Aggressive Turkey Forges Alliance With Libya: Keith Johnson: FP, Dec. 23, 2019 — Turkey is meshing together two Mediterranean crises in a desperate bid to reshape the region in its own favor, with potentially nasty implications both for the ongoing civil war in Libya and future energy development in the eastern Mediterranean.
Pro-Turkish Syrian Mercenaries, Jihadists May Add Fuel to Fire in Libya’s Conflict: Sami Moubayed, Ahval, Jan. 13, 2020 — The number of Syrian fighters in Libya has crossed the 1,000-men benchmark, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The fighters are from various military divisions in the armed Syrian opposition, all bankrolled and shipped to Libya by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Why Erdogan Put a Huge Bounty on Exiled Palestinian Leader Mohammed Dahlan: Yossi Melman, Haaretz, Jan. 8, 2020 — The recent quiet in the Gaza Strip shows that Hamas is taking the prospect seriously that a “mini-truce” with Israel can be achieved in the near future.
Turkey: Turning on Washington to Benefit Moscow: Stephen Blank and Peter Huessy, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 8, 2020 –– Turkey’s often seeming contradictory relations with the United States and Russia — such as, for instance, Ankara’s boosting of cooperation with Ukraine, on the one hand, and defending the Libyan government against General Khalifa Haftar’s insurgency on the other — likely stem from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s apparent drive to become a leading regional and global power.
Congressman Suggests Turkey Could Be ‘Kicked Out’ Of Nato: ‘I Don’t Think They’re An Ally Today’: Jason Lemon, Newsweek, Oct. 15, 2019 —