Aref Nayed: Libya’s Vast Wealth is Going to Erdogan and to the Transnational Muslim Brotherhood – Al Marsad

The Chairman of the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS), Dr Aref Ali Nayed, during his official visit to Athens was interviewed by the Hellenic Parliament TV channel. In the interview he attacked Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams and Turkey’s support for Islamist terrorism and using it as a weapon against other countries such as Libya.

[Libya, 4 February 2020] – Dr Aref Ali Nayed added in the interview, the full transcript of which we publish in full below, that Erdogan after the promises he made in Berlin continued shipping Syrian militants to Libya. Nayed said that there  are now over 5,000 terrorists from Syria in Tripoli, and that many of them are Turkmen terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda and ISIS and that they have been now deployed in Gharyan and Zawiya. Some of these terrorists have succeeded crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy according to reports from Syrian monitoring groups.

He also stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood protects the Syrian terrorists inside Libya. It controls the Government of National Accord (GNAO) and the Presidential Council, in addition to also controlling the Central Bank of Libya  and the transfer of oil proceeds issued by the National Oil Corporation, using the country as an ATM for their group and for Erdogan.

The interview was conducted by Alexia Koulouri, a broadcast journalist at the Hellenic Parliament TV:

Interviewer: Mr. Aref Nayed, you are head of the Libyan Institute for Advanced Studies. What’s the purpose of your visit?

Dr. Aref Ali Nayed: The purpose of my visit is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) here, and to continue building back-channel diplomacy and think-tank level discussions. I’m honored to say that the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) has been instrumental, with the help of some old friends like Ambassador Dionyssios Zois, in building the very first channels between Libya’s legitimate parliament and its government, and the Libyan National Army and the Greek government and institutions. We would like to continue this mediation work, research work and back-channel work to improve Libyan-Greek relations, and also to increase the capacity of young Libyans and young Greeks through mutual knowledge. We need to teach and train young Libyans and young Greeks about our two countries and how to improve our relations.

So what can Greece do? There are several visits taking place between politicians from Greece and Libya. How can this develop in the diplomatic field? It’s a very difficult period.

Of course this is a very difficult period and we are working very hard on all these difficulties; we had a very successful trip by the head of our parliament to meet His Excellency the head of the Greek parliament. And in that visit a very important statement came from the Greek parliament: That the Libyan parliament is the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people. This is extremely important and we can build on it. We can build better diplomatic relationships and we can end the hijacking of the Libyan legitimacy by the so-called Government of National Accord in Tripoli. Greece is now dealing with the legitimate parliament of Libya, and the legitimate army of Libya, which is the army of the parliament. Your foreign minister visited Benghazi—this was an amazing visit in which he not only met Field Marshal Haftar but also his Excellency the Prime Minister of Libya and His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Libya in Benghazi. This is very significant and we feel that, combined with the visit last week by Field Marshal Hafter himself to Athens, this is all moving towards the building up of a momentum which is vital for our two countries.

But Erdogan was annoyed by Haftar’s visit to Athens.

As you say here in Athens: poli kala—that’s really great, and that was the aim. It is not only to annoy Erdogan but to counter Erdogan, which is more important. We need to build a consortium, a consortium of people who are worried about the transnational ambitions of Erdogan and his new Ottoman dreams. The tendency of Erdogan is to not only support Islamist terrorism, but to actually use it as an instrument and as a weapon against other countries. He had the audacity to say that he is willing to agree with the Berlin document, even though he had just finished shipping 5,000 terrorists from Syria. These terrorists really are merely Turkmen terrorists of al-Qaeda and ISIS pedigree who are being shipped to Tripoli. They are now spreading in Gharyan and Zawiya. Some of them even made it across the Mediterranean to Italy, according to some credible reports by Syrian groups.

Who is protecting jihadists in Libya?

The Muslim Brotherhood, and the Muslim Brotherhood controls the Tripoli government, unfortunately. The so-called Presidential Council was supposed to be a 9-man council. It is now reduced to a mere 4 out of the 9. And the Central Bank of Libya is completely controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. All the oil revenue from the National Oil Corporation goes to the Central Bank of Libya which is being used as an ATM machine by the Muslim Brotherhood and Erdogan. That is why Erdogan is so interested. It is not a case of them wanting to defend the interests of the Libyan people, nor the interests of the Turkish people, but to defend the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood and their pan-Islamist dreams.

How do you view the criticism towards Haftar inside Libya?

In what way?

In the way he behaves inside Libya?

The only people who carry such a narrative are people who are misled by the PR companies which are being paid by Tripoli from Libya’s own money. Companies like Mercury and Gotham have put forward the narrative that there is a legitimate government in Tripoli under siege by a rogue general, or a renegade general, or a strongman, or a warlord—but they all forget one very simple thing: Field Marshal Haftar was appointed by the legitimate, duly elected Parliament of Libya. He heads the Army of the Parliament of Libya. What Haftar has done is to lead the Libyan Army, from a mere 200-man contraption into a very systematic and organized army that has managed over several years to not only stamp out Islamist terrorists’ control of Benghazi, but also of Derna in the south. Now the army is actually inside Tripoli, it’s not on the outskirts of Tripoli. Let me put it this way: the Chief of Staff offices of the largest army are now actually occupied by the Libyan National Army—inside Tripoli.

What is your comment on the recent decisions of the Berlin conference after the ceasefire was not being respected?

You see, when you say ceasefire, or even truce: what truce? During the few days of truce, Erdogan shipped 5,000 fighters on civilian airlines. You know it is well-documented that he used civilian airlines to actually ship all these people. He shipped massive amounts of weapons, drones, anti-aircraft systems. So the truce has just been a cover for Erdogan to arm his allies. Now he can probably wash his hands of them and say: I have no more shipping to do. But he has shipped enough, enough to make a difference. So they’re already feeling out the Libyan National Army. They are the ones who are beginning with hostilities. The Libyan National Army has shown amazing discipline since it has promised to have a truce. They have not fired a single shot and any hostility has only been a result of defending themselves at the airport road and various other locations inside Tripoli.

Greece should have been invited in Berlin.

I recommended to His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Greece that Greece should be in Berlin. I wrote formally to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin to invite the Greeks to Berlin. When the Germans said that it was too late, and then gave an invitation to the Algerians, I wrote to the Greeks saying: look, the Algerians were just invited, try again to get invited. We have done everything we can to make sure that Greece comes. We would have loved Greece to be there, because prior to any of the discussions in Berlin there should have been a prior discussion of two things: declaring the agreements signed between the GNA and Turkey to be illegitimate. And, secondly, taking back the 5,000 al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists back to Turkey. Before we do that Berlin doesn’t make sense. And Greece could have been the advocate for such a position. Unfortunately Greece wasn’t invited. I feel that it’s an offence not only to Greece, but to Libya, and to the Libyan file. But it shouldn’t break your heart too much, because Libyans were also not invited. Sometimes we Africans still remember the 1884 Berlin Conference where Africans weren’t present but were decided for by Western powers. Unfortunately something similar happened, in that Libyans were not invited, then at the very last minute they did invite Sarraj and Field Marshal Haftar, but only to ask them to name the 5+5 committee members. But they were not part of the session or the discussion. We feel that this kind of exclusion is not conducive to a realistic solution. And I think that a lot of simple appeasement took place. Turkey should have been confronted in a more forceful and stronger way in Berlin. We’re glad that President Macron did say something about these Syrians and about the agreements.

What about Italy? Turkey is trying to gain allies like Italy. Is it possible to gain allies in Europe?

Look, Italy was a strong ally of the GNA for several years, but I was in Italy very recently and there is a noticeable change in the direction of the Italian government. They have been a lot more open to the Parliament and its government and also to Field Marshal Haftar. And the reason is that Italy itself feels threatened. As I told you, there are credible reports even acknowledged by Ghassan Salame himself that there are some of these terrorists actually leaking to Italy. So their aim is not to do so-called jihad just in Libya, but also across the Mediterranean and our neighboring countries. I think that Italy already recognizes the danger of the Turkish-GNA agreement and what Erdogan is doing, and they don’t see that Italy would make an alliance with Turkey against the rest of the world.

What is the purpose of negotiation between both sides? What is the purpose of mediation when Haftar and Saraj do not want to see each other?

Part of the mistake of UNSMIL and Mr. Salame, and he’s a dear friend whom I deeply respect, is to reduce Libya to two persons. You know Field Marshal Haftar is an important commander of the Libyan army. But this is the army of the duly elected parliament which also has a legitimate government that has sworn allegiance and has the confidence of the Parliament. And this is very very significant. The Libyan army represents the will of the Libyan people, the social fabric of Libya with its tens of tribes. Libya is still a tribal society and the vast majority of Libyan tribes are actually with the Libyan National Army because it’s the Libyan National Army of the Libyan Parliament that is aiming to liberate the capital and to free Libya’s resources and money from the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. So it’s not about Field Marshal Haftar sitting with a single person called Sarraj. It is about the will of the Libyan people. Now the reason Field Marshal Haftar doesn’t want to sit with Sarraj is not because he doesn’t want to sit, but because he has sat before again and again and I was witness to some of these meetings. In Paris he sat, in Abu Dhabi he sat several times, and unfortunately each time Saraj went back to Tripoli, and basically implemented the agenda of the Islamist militias and reneged on all the agreements that were agreed to before. And he claimed to be wanting elections and a civil state, when he continues to withhold the money from the electoral commission. And in actual fact he is an unelected tyrant that has ruled us for four years instead of the one year provision by the Libyan political agreement.

As the first post-Gadhafi Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, how do you see the future of Libya?

I see the future of Libya as a glorious future, because the Libyan people are a glorious people. Libya has amazing resources. It has an amazing location and it has amazing neighbors. If we can only free ourselves from the stranglehold of Muslim Brotherhood control, Libya would make an amazing ally to Greece, to Cyprus, to Italy, to Malta, to Europe, and can be a gateway to the Sahel countries. Libya is an ideal hub as historically from ancient times it was, and was a place in which trade flew across the Mediterranean. We can regain that position very quickly. We only need to get rid of Islamist control of Tripoli, and that is what the Libyan army is trying to do—not because of Field Marshal Haftar, but on behalf of the Libyan parliament and of the Libyan people and its social fabric.

So what kind of crisis do you have in Libya? Is it all about oil control?

Our crisis is very simple. It is about a transnational group kidnapping parasitically the resources of the nation state, to use them to advance their transnational projects. This is about the new Khilafa. This is about a new Ottoman order. This is about a transnational Reich-like entity that the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to establish. The nation state of Libya is not rising for a very simple reason. Its resources have been hijacked by a transnational entity that does not believe in the nation state. We need to build Libya with fellow citizens.

Do you also accuse them of oil smuggling?

They don’t have to smuggle. They are selling the oil legally, to put all the money in the Central Bank of Libya legally, and then taking this money and putting it in Turkey and other places legally. When we say legally I mean according to so-called international legitimacy of the GNA. And when it comes to the Libyan courts it is totally illegal. Seventeen judgments by the Libyan judiciary have ruled that the GNA has no right to spend a penny of Libya’s money. And unfortunately they have been disregarded all this time.

So that disruption of oil production is the correct answer?

Look, it is like shooting yourself in order to make a protest. It is counterproductive and it’s against the long-term interests of Libya. However, we must understand. This it is an expression of desperation and angst by the Libyan people who are deprived of the simplest of things. of their salaries, of cooking gas, of fuel, of basic medical services—while their vast wealth is going to Mr Erdogan and not even to Turkey, but to the transnational Muslim Brotherhood.


© Al Marsad English (2020)