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Turkey and Cloning Iranian Militias

Turkey and Cloning Iranian Militias

Monday, 10 February, 2020 - 07:30
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

It is probably the only case in the world where fighters would leave their own war-torn country to head to another to fight in a war that has nothing to do with them. This is all in credit to the state that is sponsoring them, Turkey, which has decided to exploit and send them to Libya.

Some 3,000 Syrian fighters (so far) have arrived in Libya. They have come from the Soqour al-Sham, Failaq al-Sham, al-Sultan Murad and other factions. The majority do not have identification papers. They were sent by Ankara from Gaziantep in southern Turkey to Istanbul and then directly to Libya to fight there in return for a monthly salary after they were used by Turkey in its war against the Kurds in northern Syria.

Now is the time for Turkey to expand the use of those mercenaries. It shifted its attention to Africa and threatened them to comply otherwise it would cease supporting them.

Mohammed, a member of the Jaish al-Islam extremist group, who had arrived in Tripoli told France’s Jeanue Afrique magazine: “In early December, Turkish forces summoned a group of main commanders of Syrian factions to attend a routine meeting in Gaziantep. This time, however, the military council did not talk about Syria. Everyone was shocked.”

“The Turks did not allow us to fight the Syrian regime in Idlib, but they asked us to fight here in Libya!”

The commanders noted that this took place despite United Nations resolutions and the Berlin conference where world leaders had called against the direct military intervention in the Libyan crisis. In spite of this, the Turkish government continued to send arms and thousands of mercenaries in flagrant violation of international law.

Why is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cloning the Iranian experiment by establishing militias and sending them to wage wars and embark on several military adventure?

Obviously, Erdogan cannot send his own army to Libya, opting instead to send mercenaries and fearing internal Turkish criticism that embroiling the country in adventures brings more harm than good. He believes that the solution lies in forming militias, comprised of members he had relied on during the long war in Syria. On the one hand, he would carry out his adventure and on the other, their loss would not be held against Turkey if they are killed on the Libyan battlefield.

This is the cloning of the Iranian experiment because Erdogan is bullying and imposing a status quo on countries and peoples who are suffering from chaos and instability. This is the same policy Iran has adopted in setting up its militias in Arab countries. Moreover, Erdogan is concealing his motives behind hollow slogans and “humanitarian” motives that are promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood. What a shame that they are doing it at the expense of their own countries, such as Syria or Libya. Never mind the occupation of their country, because ideology, not loyalty to the nation, is holding the reigns.

The world was banking on the Berlin conference to at least offer a temporary halt in the Libyan war. Turkey had other plans, even though it was present at the meeting. It violated its agreements and continued to send weapons, mercenaries and militias because it was eager to impose the status quo policy.

Perhaps Turkey believes that it could rival Iran’s success in establishing militias. It is however, overlooking the high price each country has to pay when it goes down this path. Iran is paying the price of the actions of its outlaw agents and foreign proxies. The Turkish regime is setting itself up to pay the same price because militias will turn on themselves if they no longer have anything else to eat up.

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