Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continued warning that terrorist groups as well as a 'flood of refugees' will show up on Europe's shores if the Tripoli government were to fall to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, amid his continued offensive to control the Libyan capital. Erdogan's statement came a day before he heads to Berlin for a major peace conference which will attempt to halt the fighting.
And yet look who's sending actual jihadists into the already war-ravaged country on comfortable commercial jets:
Wasn’t this supposed to be a “covert” operation?— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) January 18, 2020
Footage is allegedly showing Syrian rebels in a jet, getting transferred to Libya in support of UN-backed government in Tripoli. pic.twitter.com/536iLwyVTD
Middle East media outlet Arab News describes the footage as follows:
A video has emerged showing dozens of what appear to be Syrian rebels on an Afriqiyah Airways plane headed to Libya where they will allegedly fight alongside the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA), Libyan newspaper Al-Shahid has claimed.
In the video, the men — three of whom were seen wearing military uniforms — are on their way to Libya where they will reportedly fight as mercenaries for the GNA’s militias.
The shocking video of what is supposed to be a "covert" Turkey-sponsored mission to bolster the Tripoli GNA government with both Syrian jihadist FSA mercenaries (and separately Turkish national troops) confirms new reporting in The Guardian this week.
According to the bombshell Guardian report:
Two thousand Syrian fighters have traveled from Turkey or will arrive imminently to fight on the battlefields of Libya, Syrian sources in all three countries have said, in an unprecedented development that threatens to further complicate the north African state’s intractable civil war.
The deployment came after Turkey agreed last month to come to the aid of the Libyan prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, who is backed by the UN, in the face of a months-long campaign by his rival, the warlord Khalifa Haftar.
This perhaps makes Erdogan's latest 'warning' appear something more like a 'threat' in which he's the one actually holding the trigger.
“Europe will encounter a fresh set of problems and threats if Libya’s legitimate government were to fall,” Erdogan said.
“Terrorist organisations such as ISIS [ISIL or Daesh] and al-Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find a fertile ground to get back on their feet,” he continued. “Keeping in mind that Europe is less interested in providing military support to Libya, the obvious choice is to work with Turkey, which has already promised military assistance,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan has long claimed Turkey's intervention in Libya is to "combat terrorism" — which for Ankara means defeating pro-Haftar forces.
Having failed in #Syria, #Turkey’s latest experiment turns to #Libya.— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) January 18, 2020
Sending #Syrian rebels, as mercenaries to fight in #Libya;
those same rebels that once sought to oust #Assad, have now become pawns & a gun for hire in #Ankara's foreign policy. https://t.co/0GK1kzwFlj
Meanwhile, journalist for The Sunday Times Hala Jaber has noted Turkey's latest foreign adventurism includes sending the same "guns for hire" once used to try and oust Assad to Libya.
Or we might even say many foreign fighters are going "back" to Libya, given in the early years of the Syrian war many thousands of jihadists from North Africa were allowed to enter northern Syria via Turkey to assist in the Western/Gulf military alliance in regime change efforts there.
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Libyan Islamists backed by the West toppled Gaddafi and destroyed much of the country in the 2011 war. Here they are posing at Tripoli's international airport in 2014 after capturing and destroying airplanes: