AfD Bundestag Member Stefan Keuter is most concerned about the security risks that Turkey's Libya policy holds for Germany as well as Europe. FWM spoke to Keuter about his reservations.
Mr Keuter, during a parliamentary inquiry into the German federal government’s findings regarding the effects of Turkish policy towards Syria and Libya which influences the security situation in Germany, you asked pertinent questions. Why do you think this issue is so important?
Keuter: Frankly speaking, now it is almost too late to start worrying – everyone should have started [worrying] long ago already. Especially with regard to the passivity of the German government. The security of our country and its citizens is at stake.
What do you mean by that?
Keuter: As we can see from the critical situation on the Turkish-Greek border, a new, unchecked wave of migration could be imminent. The key country creating tensions is quite obviously Turkey, which at the same time is “shipping” Islamist fighters from the Syrian region of Idlib to Libya to fight there on the side of the ruler Fayez al-Sarraj. This situation is highly dangerous, as Ankara is pinching the European continent from two sides. It is of a high importance that urgent actions be taken.
The government answered your inquiry just now. Do you have confidence in their answers?
Keuter: I wish I could answer “yes”. But I can’t. The answers show that our government is not paying enough attention to these security threats. While we are busy doing this interview here, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blackmailing Europe with waves of migrants again. He is weaponizing people, fueling conflicts like in Libya and Syria and endangering our security. At the same time, our own government seems to be turning a blind eye to this danger.
The subject of Libya should have been raised by the Chancellor at the Libya Conference in Berlin in January…
Keuter: Absolutely, but that obviously did not happen. This conference could have been the exact opportunity to raise these important security policy issues.
What dangers do you see in Turkey’s support for the Sarraj forces in Libya?
Keuter: First of all, we must emphasize that Turkey is clearly violating an arms embargo by sending Lybia weapons and other military materiel. That alone is already worth a discussion. Moreover, it is known from numerous international media reports that Sarraj is gathering Jihadist troops, including Al-Qaida fighters.
At the same time, the highly corrupt and internationally financed Libyan coast guard is under the control of the Sarraj government. The so-called “coast guard” is itself often active in carrying out smuggling and human trafficking.
This is a highly explosive mixture that can blow up in Europe at any time – it can easily happen when Jihadists send so-called “refugee boats” to Europe. And, by the way, there are lots of incomers from Syria who prefer going to Europe directly before they even take part in any fighting. Once these people are in the Mediterranean and perhaps “rescued” by some German NGO ship, it is already too late. We should all have learned from the mistakes of 2015.
Keuter: We can call it either “opening the border” or “total loss of control”. The fact is that we have never known who had really flooded into the EU at that time, even to this day.
Just now the president of the House of Representatives (Tobruk) Aguila Saleh proposed the steps for the creation of a presidential council in Libya to bring back stability to Libya. General Haftar agreed to these steps and called on “everyone to take this historic decision through to local assemblies and civil society structures, political and social organisations.” Haftar said there was a chance to “normalize the country”…
Keuter: Stating it clearly: Everything that brings Libya back on track towards stability deserves international support. I seriously hope that Berlin will listen to these proposals of Saleh. Libya was turned from an organised state into chaos in 2011. And Europe should have learned an important lesson: The less stable and the more chaotic the situation in Libya is – the more risky the security situation on the European continent becomes.
You asked, among other things, whether and how the German government wants to prevent so-called Syrian “rebels” from illegally infiltrating Germany via Libya and the Mediterranean Sea…
Keuter: That is a very central question. I really wonder whether anyone in Berlin has ever thought about it. The government avoids a clear answer to this clear question. But it will be one of the central questions of our future.
Do you trust German security authorities?
Keuter: Of course. But not the German government.
What do you mean?
Keuter: Even in 2015, there were lots of security experts who had warned against opening the borders. The German government had refused the protection of our borders. We are talking about a political problem.
What do you think would be the best way to prevent the situation in Libya from creating a new security problem?
Keuter: Such problems can only be solved on two levels at once: foreign policy and domestic policy. In other words: we must finally represent and stand up for our interests in foreign policy. As far as events in Libya are concerned, they obviously harm us. We need to change our policy towards Sarraj there. If his government cannot manage to protect the coast, but its opponent General Khalifa Haftar can – why not support Haftar? We would not be the first – Russia is also on Haftar’s side. Besides, Haftar is successfully fighting Al-Qaida and other Jihadist gangs in Libya.
And finally, on the domestic front we need effective border protection.
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