These days Turkey is vying for the title of top thug in both Europe and Northern Africa. Apart from the “spy scandal” with France, Turkey has been meddling directly in the Libyan conflict in a profoundly comprehensive and controversial way, deepening existing tensions.
According to the daily Sabah, a former employee of the French consulate’s security service claimed he had erected a spy ring for France in exchange also for a place in the French Foreign Legion – an unlikely reward. The revelation came just days after an incident at sea embarrassing Turkey.
On June 17, a Turkish government delegation arrived in the capital Tripoli to take part in negotiations with representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by its head Fayez Sarraj.
According to the Anadolu state news agency, the Turkish delegation included Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Finance Berat Albayrak, Director of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan and other officials.
It is worth mentioning that the trip of Turkish ministers to Tripoli was a reciprocal visit – in early June, Libyan Prime Minister Sarraj visited Ankara and met the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During that meeting, the Turkish leader indicated that the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Marshal Khalifa Haftar could not take part in the talks on the Libyan conflict. “A person whose actions are constantly threatening the future of Libya is not entitled to be represented at the negotiating table,” the Turkish president declared.
Turkey will not abandon its brothers in Libya, leaving them at the mercy of “mercenaries and putschists,” Erdogan assured Sarraj standing next to him, stressing that Ankara would support the GNA on all international platforms to force a settlement of the Libyan conflict.
The head of the Turkish state also maintained that after talks with the head of the Libyan government, it was decided to expand the scope of cooperation in Libya. “Turkey and Libya plan to deepen cooperation, including on the issue of exploration and drilling of oil deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan explained.
But some media outlets reported that Turkey’s plans for Libya went far beyond a mere aspiration “to reach a settlement”: Ankara aims to assign an insider to one of the most influential posts in Tripoli – the head of the GNA’s intelligence service.
According to information provided by the French agency Africa Intelligence, a new battle has begun in the Libyan capital, but this time one of a political nature. The game is for control over the intelligence service of the Government of National Accord. The position of the head and two positions of deputies are still vacant.
So far, the head of the GNA, Fayez Sarraj, has been the acting head. However, the battle for the chair of the intelligence chief is heating up. In addition, the situation has become tenser due to the struggle for power and administrative welter within the GNA government.
At the same time, according to Africa Intelligence, the system of foreign influence in Libya has changed significantly since the final stage of the launch of the anti-terrorist operation Al-Karama, organized by the forces of the LNA commander Marshal Khalifa Haftar on April 4, 2019.
Currently, Rome has lost its dominant grasp on the Libyan secret services, with which it had historically close ties. Today, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the decisive leverage in the GNA government.
So obviously, the Turkish leader is trying to appoint a loyal intelligence chief.
Nevertheless, as Africa Intelligence reported, Turkey’s candidates for this position have an extremely dubious reputation. In May, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Turkish network, recognized as terrorist organization in some countries, already lobbied for the appointment of radical Islamist leader Khalid al-Sharif, the former commander of the Libyan Islamic Combat Group. At the June meeting in Ankara, Turkey revisited this issue.
Sharif is known for having ties to Al-Qaeda, is a former CIA prison inmate, involved in the murder of American consulate employees and he has maintained relations with Tripoli’s slave traders. He is also wanted for participating in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. Sharif currently resides in Istanbul. According to information from anonymous sources, he secretly visited the capital of Libya last week together with employees of Turkey’s special forces.