Turkey Announces Naval Manoeuvres off Libya Named After Ottoman Pirates and Governors of Tripoli and North Africa – Al Marsad

The Turkish Naval Forces announced forthcoming “large-scale” manoeuvre off the Libyan coast, which Turkey seems to consider part of its territorial waters. According to a pro-Erdogan newspaper the naval manoeuvres will involve 17 warplanes and 8 naval warships to prove “Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea and its being the dominant power in the region.”

(Libya, 9 July2020) – The Turkish Navy indicated that the expected “Naftex” exercises would take place off the Libyan coast in three different regions and under three different names: Barbarus, Turgut Reis, and Chaka Bey.

Without revealing the timing of the naval manoeuvres, the Yeni Şafak newspaper of the ruling party in Turkey stated that they would take place soon in anticipation of the outbreak of any war in the eastern Mediterranean amid the recent escalating tensions in Libya.

The newspaper added that these exercises would involve 17 warplanes and 8 naval warships to prove “Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea and its being the dominant power in the region.”

Yeni Şafak quoted experts who will participate in the exercises describing it as a message to Turkey’s friends and opponents that shows how Turkish forces can be ready for any military campaign within 24 hours.

“Through these manoeuvres, we can reach the eastern and western Mediterranean countries and every nook and cranny. They are a message to several axes, notably Operation IRINI of the European Union, and Greece,” added the experts claiming that the second axis includes Egypt and Israel, allegedly hostile to Turkey, while the third axis includes countries that are still to decide to be Turkey’s friends or enemies.


Turkey has given its manoeuvres three names, the first of which is Hayreddin Barbarossa (Romanized as Khayr al-Din Barbarus), the Janissary pirate and thief, who later became the commander of the Ottoman fleet. In one of his speeches before his parliament, Erdogan considered Libya to be part of Barbarus’ legacy.

Barbarus assumed the said position due to his unrivaled piracy and his closeness to the Ottoman sultans. He was among the founders of the Ottoman Empire and its maritime force, which he joined with his fleet, which he used for piracy with his brother.

A portrait of the pirate Hayreddin Barbarus.

In 1502, Barbarus and his brother Aruj started their banditry to control the Mediterranean. They became notorious during that period thanks to their victories in Spain, Genoa (now southern Italy), and France. They also ruled over Algeria and Tunisia.


The second manoeuvre is named about Dragut Pasha who was a Turkish pirate who entered this field at the beginning of the 16th century along with other Turkish bandits who extended their control over the eastern Mediterranean basin and terrorized the Italian ships sailing from the archipelago of Venice.

The pirate Dragut Pasha.

Dragut Pasha joined the fleet of his fellow pirate Barbarus and became his right hand in his naval conquests. In 1551, Dragut Pasha managed to control Tripoli after defeating the Maltese, and since that date Tripoli-of-the-West, as it was known then, became the second Ottoman Eyalet (primary administrative division of the Ottoman Empire) in North Africa. He became its Wali (ruler) in 1553.

Dragut Pasha’s Tomb, Old City Tripoli.

He died at the age of 80 years after a shrapnel head injury during his attempt to invade Malta and was buried in Tripoli.


Finally, the third manoeuvre is named after a Seljuk commander and sailor of the eleventh century, Chaka Bey. In 1071, Chaka Bey established and managed an independent emirate in Smyrna “present-day Izmir” immediately after the Battle of Manzikert during the period in which the Seljuks spread in the Anatolia.

Chaka Bey

These names indicate Erdogan’s ambitions on the “Turkification of Libya” and reviving the glory of the collapsed Ottoman Sultanate against which Libyans revolted three times led by the freedom fighter Ghomah al-Mahmoudi, Saif al-Nasr, and many others.

© Al Marsad English (2020)



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