Menna Abdel Razek
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports the Brotherhood government in Libya not out of love for it or its leader, Fayez al-Sarraj, but rather to ensure his interests in the Middle East. To this end, Ankara has exploited Libyan and Tunisian researchers to promote the Turkish military interference in cooperation with the Turkish Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), including by recently attempting to send trained Tunisian technical engineers to these centers to support the Sarraj government.
Through conferences in Libya, Turkey and Tunisia, as well as articles and blogs, some Libyan researchers promote Erdogan’s policies toward Libya in support of Turkish interests, interfering in the Arab Maghreb countries, and promoting the Ottoman caliphate.
Dr. Salah al-Bakoush, a Libyan political analyst, activist and advisor to the former Libyan High Council of State, has appeared at SETA conferences with other researchers to support the Turkish vision. Bakoush praised the role of Qatar and Turkey in Libya, adding that Turkish assistance to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has created a balance of forces against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar. He pointed out in an interview on the Brotherhood channel Libya Al-Ahrar in December 2019 that Erdogan says that power is an extension of politics that can be used or brandished and that he is now waving his strength, hoping that he uses it and sees Turkish forces on Libyan soil soon, noting that the transfer of Turkish forces and weapons will take some time to reach Libya.
Mehdi Thabet, a Tunisian researcher and Libyan affairs specialist, is also considered a supporter of the Turkish vision, even if he tries to be objective. But he participates in SETA conferences in Tunisia and became the head of the Libyan file unit at the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, which supervised the training of technical engineers and sent them to Libya in cooperation with SETA. He uses his appearances in Tunisian media to support the Turkish military intervention in Libya, claiming that it will tip the scales in favor of the GNA and that it would be more beneficial to Tunisia and Algeria for Turkey to have a pivotal role in the region, especially as he views that Tunisia tends toward international legitimacy not to support the LNA, believing that the Turkish-Qatari solution in Libya is the best way to achieve stability in Libya and the success of the transitional phase. He has steadfastly promoted views supportive of Turkey through seminars and symposiums on the Libyan conflict.
Libyan researcher Senussi Bsaikri is a prominent member of the Libyan Brotherhood, a writer for Qatar’s Al-Jazeera, and the director of the Libyan Research and Development Center, which collaborates with SETA. He also attacks the LNA in the media. In the footsteps of the Brotherhood, he has described Haftar’s LNA as anti-democratic and called for the recruitment of the youth in Tripoli and the western region to fight against the LNA.
Turkey uses these researchers and politicians to spread its ideas and justify its interference in Libyan affairs, along with other names such as Zubair Khalafallah, head of the Ottoman Documentation Center in Tunisia, and Rafik Abdel Salam, head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Tunisia, who collaborate with SETA s mere soldiers of the Turkish regime in the Middle East.