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The Ottoman Caliphate, with Istanbul as its capital. Image: Wikipedia.

Turkey poses threat to Europe’s security as Erdogan pursues ‘New Caliphate’

With Turkey's announcement that it will allow Muslim refugees to cross into EU territory and his increasing military intervention in Libya, many people are wondering what motivates its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Does he intend restoring the Ottoman Empire in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa?

Published: March 2, 2020, 9:49 am

    Middle East instability continues to pose a threat to European security: sources in Libya report that Turkey plans to supply a large consignment of weapons to launch an offensive on LNA positions in the next two weeks. At the end of February, the GNA arsenal was already replenished with new types of weapons: artillery systems T-300 Kasirga and several Leopard-1T tanks, about 10 ARMA armored vehicles and 10 ACV-15 vehicles. At the same time, the GNA plans to initiate a postponement of the Geneva talks. The GNA, widely supported by Turkey, regularly violates the ceasefire, turning Libya into a center of instability, which poses a direct threat to the European continent and risks turning into a new migration crisis.

    Jihadists as the instrument of Turkey’s new imperialism

    At the end of November 2019, Turkish President Erdogan signed a memorandum on military cooperation between Turkey and the Government of the National Accord of al-Sarraj. On January 2, 2020, the Turkish Parliament adopted a law that allows sending military personnel to Libya. The Guardian released a story, which indicates that since May 2019, the Turkish side has been transporting jihadists from Idlib to Tripoli to strengthen al-Sarraj’s military position.

    A spokesman of the LNA Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mismari stated in late January 2020 that Turkey was transporting terrorists to Libya, violating international law, ignoring the decisions of the Berlin Conference and violating the arms embargo. Al-Mismari also stated that jihadis sent by Turkey were attempting to illegally enter the European continent (they were detained by LNA).

    On 21 February 2020, the Turkish President approved the sending of pro-Turkish military forces from Syria to Libya.

    “Turkey is there with a training force. There are also people from the Syrian National Army,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, referring to the group of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

    Erdogan’s support for the GNA is largely guided by his strong desire to expand his zone of control in the Eastern Mediterranean and more broadly on the North African continent. Regime change in the Sudan has reduced Turkey’s zone of influence in the Maghreb countries and has placed Erdoğan in urgent need of finding new allies. The active role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the GNA (the February 17 Martyres Brigade, as well as the Misrata Brigade) has prepared an excellent base for Turkey’s intervention in the Libyan conflict. In addition, the head of the GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj, is an ethnic Turk.

    The Muslim Brotherhood

    Founded in 1928 in Ismailia, Egypt, by Hassan al-Banna, the movement aimed at Islamizing all governments in the Middle East and recreating the “Great Islamic Caliphate”. In order to implement the plan to create a universal caliphate, the Ikhwans had the “blessing” to wage a holy war, or jihad. The movement regularly used the practice of terror to achieve its interests and goals. Since the mid-1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria has waged armed struggle against the BAAS party, accusing it of secularism and carrying out almost daily terrorist attacks against Alawites as well as major Syrian high-ranking officials.

    In Libya, the Brotherhood appeared in 1949 as an offshoot of the main Egyptian structure; in 1968, after Gaddafi’s arrival, they went underground; the organization was banned from 1974 to 2010. A revival of activity within the Muslim Brotherhood began after the overthrow of Gaddafi, in Libya it appeared on February 17  with the Martyres Brigade, which in 2014 launched an active struggle against Haftar. The center of activity of the Muslim Brotherhood from 2014 has become Tripoli, where members of the movement have been integrated with the authorities – until January 2019 the president of the Supreme State Council of Al-Mishri (GNA) was officially a member of the movement. In February 2017, Haftar announced that the Muslim Brotherhood was a huge threat to Libya. Some time later, the House of Representatives in Tobruk placed a number of Libyan Brotherhood leaders on terrorist lists linked to Qatar. (See here.)

    It is important to note that the Muslim Brotherhood movement throughout the history of the twentieth century has been repeatedly used by Western powers to overthrow sovereign regimes. In the 1970s, James Craig, the official representative of the Foreign Office, together with Sir Richard Beaumont, British Ambassador to Egypt, launched an active lobbying campaign aimed at using the Muslim Brotherhood in the war against the left-wing socialist regimes. A similar strategy of collaboration with radical Islamists in the United States was shared by Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    The Ikhwans as an instrument in the fight against communist regimes fits into the logic of the neo-conservative agenda of American hegemony: cooperation with any forces is acceptable to destroy undesirable regimes (“the goal justifies the means”). Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood, which originally proclaimed the goal to fight Anglo-Saxon colonialism, acted as a proxy for Western hegemony in the struggle against the secular left-wing regimes of the Middle East.

    The connection of the Justice and Development Party with the Muslim Brotherhood is longstanding: in 1969 Necmettin Erbakan founded Milli Görüş, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1996, Erbakan, who is considered the founder of “political Islam” and mentor of Erdogan (Erdogan started his political career in Erbakan’s party), as Prime Minister of Turkey tried to unite a group of 8 Islamic countries — Libya, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malaysia — into an Islamic union. The attempts failed, but the strategy to unite the Islamic world under the aegis of Turkey did not get off the agenda. Despite Erdogan’s attempts to draw a line of “civilised Islam”, largely based on Sufi teachings (Shamsuddin al-Tabrizi and Jalaluddin Rumi), the Muslim Brotherhood nevertheless developed actively in Turkey: Turkish translations of the movement’s theorist Sayyid Qutb, as well as translations of letters from Hassan al-Banna, began to appear. The Justice and Development Party began to follow Erbakan’s course.

    “The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly expressed its gratitude for the support of the Turkish president. Their spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said in August 2014: ‘The Union of Islamic Sages has decided that the Caliphate should be restored in Istanbul, the capital of the Caliphate… New Turkey, combining religion and politics, new and old, Arab and non-Arab elements, has united the Ummah. Recep Tayyip Erdogan did it… You have to take his side, swear allegiance and tell him, “Go ahead.” I believe he will succeed by the will of Allah.” (Source.)

    The construction of the new caliphate

    “If we are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian people, we have also gone to Libya, with whom we have a brotherhood dating back 500 years, at the invitation of the Libyan people. We have a security agreement with Libya for military training,” Turkish President Erdogan said.

    Erdogan’s current foreign policy can be clearly defined as a strategy of neo-Ottomanism. In the 1920s, members of the Ottoman Empire promised to return some territories to Turkey (Northern Syria). Erdogan follows this course.

    As long as new weapons arrive in Tripoli, Turkey violates the embargo and while jihadists from Syria arrive, stability in the Middle East cannot be expected. The policy of neo-Ottomanism also has its justification: Erdogan’s power is being legitimized within the country while expanding. The position of Erdogan and his party in Turkey itself is rapidly weakening, as shown by the results of the elections — in June 2019, the mayor of Istanbul is an opposition member of the People’s Republican Party Ekrem Imamoğlu. Erdogan’s strategy is probably to use external conflicts to legitimate his own power.

    Political scientist Alexandre del Valle notes in an article on Valeurs Actuelles the following:

    “Together with Qatar, Turkey is the country that has contributed most actively to the destruction of Syria in four ways: by being the sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood criminal organization that wanted to seize power in Syria, by supplying arms to the various Islamist factions, by intervening directly and militarily in the Syrian conflict, and by organizing, from its borders with Syria, the recruitment and transfer of thousands of foreign jihadi terrorists.”

    Conclusions

    Despite a number of anti-American statements, as well as the complication of dialogue with the U.S. due to increased cooperation between Turkey and Russia (purchase of S-400), Erdogan is now pursuing a policy that is beneficial to the neoconservative elites of the United States.

    Support for the Wahhabi regime of Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and support for anti-government forces in Syria is a strategy that fits into the globalist Greater Middle East project.

    Erdogan’s current destabilization of the Middle East (especially in the Libyan conflict) could lead to disastrous consequences for European Security.

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