Libya and Turkey. Wikimedia Commons.
As tensions cool (slightly) v-a-v Iran, Saudi commentary has shifted to focus more on Turkey’s activities in Libya and Syria. I’ll tack on more articles in the days ahead and post to Twitter when done.
Most of Abdelrahman Rashed’s June commentary has been on Libya, and on how “What is coming… is worse”:
In the footsteps of Iran, Turkey, in the case of insane proliferation, is spreading militarily throughout the region; Forces in northern Iraq, a military base in Qatar, forces in Libya, battles in Syria, and military activity in Somalia. Turkish intervention in Libya will achieve one thing, not controlling Libya and enabling “reconciliation” from all power, but rather widening the circle of conflict in this country torn since the Arab Spring. Aawsat, 6.9.2020
The conflict in Libya is situated within a broader Turkish expansionist project, driven by Erdogan himself in an increasingly personalized (6/13) political system:
The features of Erdogan’s project suggest an effort at building a major regional power parallel to Iran, and perhaps replacing it, given that the US blockade of the Iranians has already weakened them a lot. Turkey, with 80 million people, has regional roles in Central Asia, and it has not succeeded much for Russia and Iran. Yet Turkey is, unlike Saudi Arabia and Iran with huge oil reserves, a country without significant financial resources… Aawsat, 6.14.2020
And playing on the language of turning Jordan into an “alternative homeland” for the Palestinians to suggest Ankara is turning Libya into the same for exiled Islamists:
We should not exclude the project of transforming Libya into an annex to Turkey and an alternative homeland for the “Brotherhood,” the Egyptian opposition currently residing in Istanbul. We know that the opposition has failed to penetrate Egypt, has failed to move the street against the state, even as its allies from among the terrorist groups have failed to create chaos and weaken the Egyptian regime. Aawsat 6.26.2020
Qatar has been brought in as well, via leaked recordings of Qatar’s rulers speaking with Qaddafi (that some intelligence service has had in its back file for quite some time yet has slowly released over the years).
The beauty of the new dangerous recordings is that they came as no surprise to anyone at all. The Qatari regime’s stance is unchanging and known for spreading chaos and conspiring against countries. The stance of its Muslim Brotherhood ally is also well-known. This means that the awareness of the receiver has become quite high in that he knows who his friend is and who his enemy is. In fact, these recordings confirmed that the billions of dollars being spent on the Qatari media machine have not been able to change firm facts and damning evidence: Chaos and strife follow the Qatari regime and Muslim Brotherhood wherever they go. Salman Al-Dosary, Aawsat, 6.26.2020
Given that the leaks were allegedly recorded in a tent with Qaddafi, outlets like Okaz were rife with mention of the “tent of conspiracies,” either to warn Kuwait of the dangers posed by Qatar (Haila al-Mushawwah, 6.30), or to turn the conversation back to Turkey by warning of “a new wave of the (Muslim) brotherhood wave… managed from the presidential palace in Ankara this time… aligned with the worst systems and organizations such as the Iranian regime and terrorist militias like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Houthis. What is happening in Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen are evidence of the Brotherhood’s new epidemic of activities.” (Hamood Abu Taleb, Okaz, 6.22)
Indeed, Okaz presented all but a solid wall of support for Egypt and President Sisi after the Egyptian President warned of a possible military intervention to curtail Turkish influence in neighboring Libya.
What Turkey is doing now is more than intervention, rather it is announcing the historical right to extend its influence over Libya as well. Erdogan speaks rudely and openly, after he occupied areas in northern Syria and Iraq and managed to establish a base in Qatar and infiltrated other regions in Africa, and is trying to control the course of affairs in Tunisia through the pro-regime Brotherhood party Ennahda. But the matter is very different for Egypt… it will not be a walk in the park for Erdogan, as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s speech came last Saturday as a red card for Turkey. Hamood Abu Taleb, Okaz, 6.23.2020
Tariq al-Hamad deems Turkey’s position in Libya “a starting point for the Brotherhood-Turkish expansion to Sudan… Tunisia and Algeria” (Tariq al-Hamad, 6.29) and therefor “Libya must be a red line, and Erdogan’s arrogance must be broken there.” (same, 6.25) For “the Turks are bullying and occupying Libya, and thus threatening Egyptian and Arab national security as a whole,” linking Egypt’s security to Saudi Arabia’s as the Egyptians are “only a railway away” from the Gulf. (same, 6.22) Erdogan relies on the Brotherhood, who “do not believe in the concept of the state,” to interfere in Arab countries with the aim of restoring the Ottoman Empire (same, 6.18) – more on that here from Nicholas Danforth.
Khalid Al-Suleiman explicitly compares the “Turkish project” to the “Iranian project” in seeking to dominate the region, while reassuring readers that “President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi restored attention to the color “red” when he identified a “red line” in the Libyan conflict.” (Okaz, 6.22)
Less discussion of all this in Al-Watan, which has focused more on domestic issues in recent weeks. Still (in addition to articles criticizing Turkey’s human rights record) from Issa al-Ghaith: “And if there is a tent for Gaddafi in Tripoli and the West, then there are tents in Tehran, Istanbul, Doha, as well as London and others (even in some Arab countries), where the Safavids [Iranians] and the Ottomans [Turks] have their agents in the mercenary Brotherhood merchants who were indebted [to their masters].” (Al Watan, 6.30)
And this from Khalid al-Aweijan, yet another linking of the Turkish and Iranian “projects”:
A “caliph” came from the far east, called Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who believes in his project. He comes with a few loafers and people fleeing their homelands, and a few bankrupt individuals from “Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar” who are affiliated with the “caliphate project.” They rush to save the remaining remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood represented in the Al-Wefaq government in Libyan… The Turkish President pursues in Libya the same approach and political behavior that the Iranian Republic uses in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Al-Watan, 6.23.2020
And earlier, also from Issa:
If Iran has for four decades violated the Arab world and prides itself on occupying 4 Arab capitals, then Turkey has become its competitor in this violation in 4 Arab countries as well: northern Syria and Iraq, as well as Qatar, not to mention Libya recently, while Somalia has the Turkey’s largest embassy. The people of Sudan got rid of the ousted Brotherhood regime, which means that Ankara has become worse than Tehran in violating Arab national security. Issa Al-Ghaith, Al-Watan, 6.22.2020
A few more to add to the list on how Turkey appears more and more in media commentary as an existential threat on par with Iran.
In a situation like this, which represents an existential threat to all Arabs, there is no room for diplomacy and political considerations. When the Kingdom set a red line in Yemen for the Houthi militia and Iran and it was not taken seriously, the Kingdom announced to the world the start of military operations in Yemen to curb Iran, preserve the legitimate government, and protect the Arab identity of Yemen. There is no choice when the danger is close to your doorstep, and there is no room to conceal the exercise of a right guaranteed by international law of self-defense law to prevent a direct threat. Hamood Abu Taleb, Okaz, 7.8.2020
And further – “From Natanz to Wattiya, the Problem is the Same”
In my opinion, there are similarities between the two events, Iranian and Turkish, including the fact that these two terrorist expansionist regimes exceeded the limits of what can be achieved by force and greed, and the response was loud, to awaken the Persian and Turkish minds from their secret. Even if it is an individual response, not collectively, systematically. Among the similarities between the two attacks, is the indication of the danger of leaving these sick regimes alone with their lust for conquest. Under the pretext of ruinous ideologies they will eventually bring massive wars to the world, while deterring them early, in the cradle, will ensure peace. Mishari al-Thaydi, Aawsat, 7.8.2020