Viktor Baranets: “The disclosure of the total number of Turkish soldiers killed in Libya may lead to a military coup in Turkey. The secret is in the arms trafficking.”
Is Erdoğan’s Arms Trade in Danger in Libya?
While the agenda of all people in Turkey and the world is the struggles with the coronavirus, the life continues from where it left off for Erdoğan in his 1150-room sheltered massive palace under the supervision of doctors. However, the recent developments in Libya and the Mediterranean seem to discomfort Erdoğan.
The first development began with the publication of the “Ghost Ships” news prepared by BBC reporter Benjamin Strick using open source information. On the day of the report, the ambassadors of the EU countries decided to start an operation named IRINA on March 31 to control the arms embargo imposed on Libya in line with the UN Security Council Decisions.
A news analysis with a headline, “Erdoğan’s Ambitions Cost the Lives of dozens of Turkish Soldiers in Libya,” was published on March 27 at the Russian Federal News Agency. According to the analysis, Turkish soldiers continue to die in Libyan territory, and Erdoğan is hiding casualties from the public due to possible domestic political consequences. Military advisor to the Pravda newspaper, retired Colonel Viktor Baranets, also mentioned that disclosure of the exact number of dead Turkish soldiers might lead to a military coup in Turkey.
Turkey’s military force in the region is around 2000 soldiers. Turkish soldiers use the Mitiga civil airport as a military base. As a result of the attacks carried out by General Hafter forces since the beginning of February, 16 Turkish soldiers and two civil engineers who controlled the UAVs died. According to local sources, more than 50 Syrian mercenaries and Turkish soldiers were killed in the clashes in Ain Zara Region on March 22. Sources close to General Hafter claim that, despite the calls made, the Erdoğan regime did not receive the bodies of the soldiers killed. Viktor Baranets stated that the claim might be true, as sending bodies to Turkey would cause outrage at the grassroots level and thinks it will trigger a military coup in Turkey.
While these developments were taking place, a French frigate was participating in the Operation NATO Marine Guard on March 28 and forced the route of the ship named PS PRAY, which departed from Istanbul Haydarpaşa Port, on the grounds that it carries weapons and air defense weapon systems to Libya. This news was published in the Russian, Bulgarian, and Greek press. So what do Turkish soldiers die for in Libya? What is on the other side of the coin?
Making no bones of the Libyan issue, the Erdogan regime earns serious money from the arms sale to the Libyan Government of National Accord, despite the arms embargo imposed in line with the UN Security Council Decisions. It is crystal clear that this money is not deposited to the Turkish Central Bank. As it is comprehended from the images published in the BBC, some of the vehicles and weapons are manufactured in the Sakarya Tank and Pallet Factory. This factory was recently sold to Qatar and Ethem Sancak partnership within the scope of privatization due to the pretext of “factory’s financial problems,” and one of the main reasons behind this sale is to have easier arms trade.
In order to shield arms trade and eliminate the public reactions for the possible military losses, the Erdoğan regime signed an agreement to restrict the Maritime Jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean with the Libyan Government of National Accord. After the news bombardment made about the agreement on protecting Turkey’s rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, the support of the Sarrac Government and the shipment of arms & troops were not seriously discussed in public, since this topic was considered as a “national issue.”
However, as a result of an attack on a merchant ship in the Port of Tripoli on February 18, journalists Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkloğlu, and Yeniçağ newspaper writer Murat Ağırel were arrested after the news published on the Odatv Website about the murder of military-origin National Intelligence Service (MIT) members, who were understood to be in the region to coordinate the arms trade. The arrest of journalists can be considered as a sign of how much the Erdoğan regime is in the mire in Libya. If the journalists were not bulldozed and intimidated, any journalist would comprehensively investigate this topic in the future, and perhaps the dirty face of the arms trade and the real number of deaths would be revealed. It is evident from now on that there will be no news about these topics without running the risk of going to jail. The common people in Turkey will continue to learn such news from foreign media.
Of course, seeing the published news on these issues in the Russian media should not be interpreted favorably. When such files or similar events came to the table or were highlighted in the press before, the Erdoğan regime made the concessions that mortgage the future of the country.
European countries have preferred to remain silent on what the Erdoğan regime has done so far on Libya and Syria in exchange for keeping the Syrian refugees in Turkey. But it seems that the EU has changed its attitude towards the agglomerating of refugees on the Greek border. The IRINA operation, which will be launched on March 31 to control the arms embargo on Libya in the Mediterranean, is a concrete indicator of this change. Moreover, forcing a cargo ship, which was is claimed to be loaded with weapons by a French frigate to change its course before the operation begins, can be considered as a sign of what will happen next.
“I said, ‘Sign a deal.’ Get it done. They really didn’t want to. All of a sudden, they start fighting. Fighting, fighting, fighting. And it was vicious, and other countries got involved. Now I say ‘Let’s sign a deal,’ they said, ‘Okay, let’s sign a deal,'” President Trump stated in an interview with a broadcaster in the USA, referring to the termination of Operation Peace Spring. As can be understood from this example, the only red line for Erdoğan is his own survival and the money he will earn from the arms and oil trade. Just as Erdoğan has made money by marketing ISIS oil before, he can sit on the table with PYD to continue the similar trade today.
We cannot fully understand the events unless the Libya issue is considered from this point of view. Erdogan “hurt” Europe by stacking refugees at the Greece border, but he also used the biggest trump card he had. Now it’s time for the European countries. Let’s see if they can prevent the flow of money from Libya to Erdoğan’s safe box. Either how will Erdoğan compromise to European leaders this time so as to continue his arms trade?