Der Spiegel: Erdogan Wants to Rule Libya – Al Marsad

A special report published by the German magazine Der Spiegel drew attention to the fact that while the world is preoccupied with the coronavirus crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is busy expanding his influence in the Libyan capital Tripoli. The German publication warned  that Erdogan wants to install himself by force as the secret ruler of Libya, posing a threat to Europe.

(Libya, 26 May 2020) – The report by Der Spiegel titled “Erdogan: Libya’s Secret Ruler” argued the Turkish President wants to impose himself as a secret ruler of the oil-rich country on the Mediterranean coast. “A few months ago, it seemed that Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), would hold all the reins, but the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, is now advancing thanks to Turkish support. Save for Turkish weapons and mercenaries, Sarraj would not have been there now,” said the report.

Der Spiegel referred to the gas agreement Sarraj signed with Turkey last November as being the signal for Erdogan to inflame the situation and intensify the dispatch of heavy materiel and thousands of Syrian mercenaries. The report asserted that Erdogan’s commitments to leave Libya, as stated in the resolutions of the Berlin Conference last January, were mere words on paper—given that five days later he sent a cargo ship loaded with ammunition, weapons, and missiles from the Turkish Port of Mersin to Tripoli.

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The report quoted a Libyan citizen named Alaa Fathi describing the situation of the fighting militias as if “death rains on his city”. He said that he had learned to live with the war adding, in a telephone conversation with the editors of Der Spiegel, that he did not expect the situation after the killing of Muammar Gaddafi to reach such an abyss. “Like the rest of the trapped residents of the capital, I am wondering how things would evolve in light of the serious daily deterioration,” said Fathi.

“Everything is scarce. Bread, gasoline, water, and electricity. Because of the battles, there is often no more food to buy for days,” said Fathi attributing this to the militias and gangs that destroy the country.


The report also touched upon Europe’s weakness in the face of Turkish interference in Tripoli dubbing it as “paralyzed” due to the lack of unified visions between the EU countries, especially France and Italy.

According to Der Spiegel a weapons expert they interviewed said that Europe has leverage to stop the war in Libya, including the list of sanctions it can impose but which it hasn’t yet used. It indicating that Europe’s failure to use its leverage allows Erdogan to intensify his support to Sarraj’s government in the ongoing war in Tripoli in terms of mercenaries, drones, and other forms of assistance.

According to Syrian opposition reports, about 7,000 Syrians signed contracts to fight in Libya’s war for Erdogan for up to USD 2,000 a month paid by Ankara. The same reports state that the Turkish government puts pressure on its affiliated armed groups in Syria to send some of their fighters to Libya.

An unnamed source from the Syrian opposition informed Der Spiegel that Erdogan threatened to stop paying them salaries if they did not send their fighters to Libya. The report also quoted a Syrian officer who had been in Libya since last January, who said that what was happening in Libya reminded him of the beginning of the war in Syria, where things worsened seriously day after day.

He pointed out that at two planes from Turkey land in Tripoli on a daily basis to carry wounded soldiers, who have reached 100, and bring 300 others more to the battlefield.

The report also pointed to tensions in the relations between the Syrian mercenaries and the Libyan militias. The Syrian officer said: “People here hate us and we are just a game of chess for Turkey.”

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The report emphasized that Sarraj is not backed by an organized army, but rather by militias and gangs hostile to each other. It also noted that for some Libyan stakeholders Haftar stood as a leader who could unify Libya while they see Sarraj as truckling to Turkey. As for the Syrian mercenaries, they follow Erdogan’s orders blindly, said the report.

Der Spiegel warned that Erdogan’s control of the Libyan coast, the longest for the passage of migrants to Europe, is a grave danger to Europe, particularly since Erdogan recently spread terror after opening Turkey’s border with Greece to refugees. Therefore, the recurrence of such threats from the Libyan coast, argued the report, was now very likely.

© Al Marsad English (2020)