How Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood contributed to Turkey's programme in Libya

The flow of mercenaries is being financed by Doha, while the Muslim Brotherhood seeks destabilization and new support in Tunisia
Combatientes sirios apoyados por Turquía toman posición en la aldea de al-Yalishli, en la zona rural de Manbij

AFP/BAKR ALKASEM  -   Combatientes sirios apoyados por Turquía toman posición en la aldea de al-Yalishli, en la zona rural de Manbij

The mercenaries, mainly Syrian, sent by Turkey to Libya, part of whom are fleeing to Europe, are being supported by Qatar and by the Muslim Brothers, an organisation considered as terrorist by Egypt, where it originated. This was recently revealed by the local media Libya Akhbar, which quotes the Russian Federal News Agency. The investigation, entitled 'Details of the Terrorist Shipment from Turkey to Libya', exposes that the weapons sent by Turkey to Libya were bought with money from Qatar, as well as that the militiamen who arrived on Libyan territory were transferred through the Turkish security company Sadat, owned by Adnan Tanri Verdi, a figure close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On this line, Radio France International (RFA) already revealed, about a month ago, that Turkey was using the airlines Belhadj Airlines Company and Afriqiyah Airlines to transfer the mercenaries. In the case of the former, the source revealed that "since its inception, Belhadj has been working to serve the interests of Turkey and Qatar". 

In this line, it should be noted that last week the Al-Ain media revealed that the Muslim Brothers had been responsible for the dismantling and transfer of a pharmaceutical factory from Tripoli to Turkey, which provided further proof of the Egyptian organization's ability to sabotage the Libyan people, at a time marked by the deterioration of public health, the upsurge in diseases and the lack of medicines. Libyan sources consulted by the publication claim that, with actions such as the above, "millions of Libyan public funds" have been looted, which have been "transferred to banks in Turkey". 

Talibanes
AFP/BAKR ALKASEM 

This has been confirmed by one of the directors of the Central Bank of Libya, based in Tripoli and managed by the GNA, Ramzi Agha, who has acknowledged that 4 billion of its cash reserves have been sent to the Central Bank of Turkey, "as a deposit without obtaining a return". The official explained, then, that this transaction corresponded with a "guarantee of the agreements concluded between Ankara and the ANG on the supply of weapons, armored vehicles, drones and the costs to treat injured militiamen. 

Another sign of the influence of Ankara and Doha on Libyan territory is that there is a plan for both countries to host the militia leaders once they are expelled by the LNA from Haftar. Major General Al-Mabrouk Al-Ghazwi told Al-Ain that Turkey and Qatar will become the "sanctuary" for the mercenaries once the capital Tripoli is liberated. 

It should be recalled at this point that Ankara's plans in the Libyan struggle are very ambitious. Their aim is to obtain a presence in that country of around 11,000 "volunteers", as Al-Ain recently revealed, quoting LNA Colonel Khaled Al Mahjoub. So far, the Syrian Observatory has reported that, in total, almost 2,600 combatants have been sent to Tripoli, while another 1,790 recruits have entered Turkey for training courses, before being deployed to Libya. The Guardian then revealed that the first shipment of 650 militiamen took place last December, all of them belonging to the second division of the Syrian National Army (SNA), a conglomerate of Syrian rebel groups financed by Turkey. Furthermore, on 29 January, the arrival of the Turkish Army in Libya was recorded for the first time, with two warships accompanied by a helicopter.  

Libia
REUTERS/ISMAIL ZITOUNY 

For political analyst Mustafa Al-Zaidi, the problem of this interference goes back to the Sjirat Agreement of 2015, by which the UN established the so-called single transition government with the aim of closing the gap between the two administrations of Tripoli and Tobruk, at the head of which was Sarraj. "Despite the presence of an elected parliament for the Libyans, the international community ignored this advice and imposed a government controlled by the Muslim Brothers and serving the interests of the colonial states, even though the majority of Libyans did not accept it and even though it only controlled a small portion of Libyan territory," the expert explains.

Therefore, and according to analysts Ali Mohammed and Barak Al-Shati, "the crisis in Libya will only end once the Muslim Brotherhood project, sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, falls and the terrorism and traitors that called for the Turkish occupation are eliminated".

Libia
REUTERS/ISMAIL ZITOUNY 
Qatar's position

The official position of the emirate headed by Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has always been to support the UN-sponsored Government of National Unity (GNU) led by Fayez Sarraj. This faction is also openly supported by Turkey, while other countries such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are on the side of the rival side, the National Liberation Army (LNA), commanded by Marshal Khalifa Haftar. It should be recalled at this point that the so-called Arab Gulf Quartet - the Saudi and UAE monarchies, along with Egypt and Bahrain - have been explicitly confronting Qatar since 2017, when these countries accused Doha of financing terrorism. In fact, the first three have designated the Muslim Brothers, with deep ties to Qatar, as a terrorist group.

The Qatari emir has repeatedly stated his willingness to provide "all necessary support in the economic and security fields" to the GNA. In fact, last December, when news of the flow of Syrian mercenaries supported by Ankara to Tripoli began to be known, Doha announced that it would "double its efforts" to help Libya overcome its crisis, as reported by the Ashraq Al-Awsat media. As a result, Sarraj and Al-Thani met on 15 December in the Qatari capital, where they agreed to deepen all levels of cooperation between the two countries. 

The Russian report says that the Emir of Qatar promised the Turkish president, together with the renewal of his commitment to the ranks of the GNA, greater financial support for "money and arms". 

"Qatar's funds have become clear both in Syria and Libya [...] Qatar and Turkey play an important role in all countries affected by terrorism, especially in Libya, which suffers from Al-Thani's and Erdogan's continued support of terrorist groups and armed militias in Tripoli", the authors of the investigation explain. This hypothesis is taken up by analysts Reda Shaban and Fatima Bdeir, who, in the Al-Ain milieu, say that "the crisis in Libya is being fuelled by Sarraj and the Muslim Brotherhood with Turkish-Katari support". 

El primer ministro de Libia, Fayez Sarraj, y el emir de Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, en la capital qatarí, Doha
The Muslim Brothers, Libya and Algeria and Tunisia

The conflict in Libya, in addition to escalating internally, is spilling over to all its regional neighbours, such as Algeria and Tunisia. In the first case, the expert Younes Bournes explains in Al-Ain how "the declarations of the leaders of the Brothers in Algeria, hostile to the LNA and supporting the terrorist militias in Tripoli, have provoked widespread popular discontent". 

"The Muslim Brotherhood movements are the greatest danger to Algeria [...] because their positions fall within the framework of providing loyalty and obedience to the authority of the Erdogan Brotherhood and serving its agenda, in an attempt to regain a political position lost after the catastrophic failure of the organisation's movements in Algeria in 2019," the sources collected by the publication stated.

The official Algerian position towards Libya has always been clear: to become an active mediator, capable of negotiating with the two opposing sides. However, security sources in the country led by Abdelmadjid Tebboune have assured that Sarraj has been informed of "his absolute rejection of Turkish military intervention", as well as the refusal to set up a "logistical base for the passage of Erdogan's mercenaries", something that would be dangerously close to Tunisia, where the situation with respect to Libya is more complex. 

It should be noted, for example, that no Tunisian delegation attended the Berlin Conference, which took place on 19 January and was attended by many international powers. The reason? Pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, which managed to use the territory for the transfer of arms to Libya, according to Al-Ain sources. It has also been learned this Monday, from local Libyan media, that four warships of the Turkish Armed Forces have arrived at the Tunisian port of La Goulette, in a clear move that would illustrate the probable harmony of Tunisia with the ANG and its partners, Turkey and Qatar. In fact, it should be recalled that the newly appointed Tunisian President, Kais Saied, met with his Turkish counterpart, Erdogan, on 25 December last.

El presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, y el presidente de Túnez, Kais Saied, en Túnez, el miércoles 25 de diciembre de 2019
PHOTO/Slim Abid/Presidencia de Túnez vía AP 

In this line and according to a Greek source, the Turkish admiral Cem Gürdeniz has defended that, "within the Shield of the Mediterranean, Turkey should extend its scope", in a scenario where Ankara would contemplate Tunisia as a first option.