Steven Sahiounie, political commentator
The ‘Rat Line’ is now doing a ‘U-Turn’ and taking terrorists, who are working as mercenaries for Turkey, from Syria through the Port of Ceyhanli and arriving in Misrata, Libya. Hilary Clinton, then-Secretary of State under Obama, ordered ‘The Rat Line’, which was a transit line of Al Qaeda terrorists, weapons and machinery from Libya to Turkey. Those terrorists were fresh from the killing fields of Libya, having murdered, raped and looted Libya in their mission to remove Qaddafi, who was the leader of one of the 7 countries to be ‘taken down’, according to General Wesley Clark. This agreement between Erdogan and Clinton resulted in the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, in a seemingly ‘drug-deal-gone-bad’. The terrorists and their weapons of war were off-loaded at the Port of Ceyhanli, and then transferred by trucks, which had official Turkish Ministry of Transportation bills of lading, then across the border to Idlib, which was the northern headquarters of Al Qaeda in Syria, and remains today the last Al Qaeda controlled area in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun shipping out mercenaries in his employ from Ceyhanli to Misrata. They are recruited at a salary of about $ 2,000 per month, with a promise of a raise. Some are Syrian nationals, but many are from various western European, North American, Arab Gulf, and Asian nations. They leave Syria through Idlib, which is still under Al Qaeda control and receives military support from Turkey and Qatar, and humanitarian support from the US and EU charities, as well as the UN. Some are further trained in Turkey, while others are trained in Libya, under a joint Turkish-Libyan military command structure.
Libya is divided, as the Libyan Parliament, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by veteran commander Khalifa Haftar are on one side, and the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj, is on the other. The Muslim Brotherhood ideology divides them, while fellow Brotherhood followers Turkey and Qatar are propping up Sarraj in Tripoli.
At the beginning of the US-NATO attack on Syria, for the purpose of ‘regime change’, the US, EU, NATO, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were all part of the same coalition, partners in the death and destruction of Syria. However, their plan failed and they lost the war, with the Syrian resistance preventing them from achieving their goals. As the ‘friends of Syria’ began to turn on each other in defeat, it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE who turned on their neighbor Qatar, which in turn drove Qatar ever closer to its ‘brother-in-arms’ Turkey, both being driven by the political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, which aims to create a global Islamic state. Trump stopped the US support of the terrorists in Syria, which had previously been the brain-child of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry. With the US stepping away from armed ‘regime change’ goals in Syria, Turkey and Qatar filled the void and continued to support the terrorists, which included Free Syrian Army, Al Qaeda, Jibhat al Nusra and eventually ISIS.
After Trump ordered an initial withdrawal of troops from northern Syria, Erdogan then invaded the area to massacre and cleanse the area of Kurdish armed militias. The Kurds had formerly been paid mercenaries of the US and had corralled thousands of ISIS men and their wives and children in prison camps in the formerly Kurdish northeast region in Syria. Once Erdogan’s mercenaries invaded as ground troops, those prison camps were left unattended as the Kurds fled in the face of ethnic cleansing, and the Erdogan mercenaries began emptying some of the prisons and transporting them to Turkey for their eventual mission in Libya, to fight for the Sarraj regime.
“ISIS’s sleeper cells are now under the control of Turkey which is seeking to transfer them to a safe haven. Libya could be their destination because of the security vacuum here,” LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari warned, and he added, “It’s a security and not a political battle,” because of the threat to spread extremism in the entire region and not just Libya.
The Libyan parliament has asked the Arab League to suspend the GNA’s membership, while the body which represents 22 states has already expressed concern over the Turkish invasion of Syria, which is a sovereign nation.
In April, terrorist banners of ISIS and Al Qaeda waved in Tripoli, in support of the Sarraj regime, and it was then attributed to Turkish meddling in Libyan battles, as al-Nusra terrorists were arriving from Syria. Haftar’s forces countered the terrorists, with a threat to expel the terrorists and their militias from Tripoli, to restore stability, security and the state institutions.
US President Donald Trump phoned Haftar in April, where he “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system”. Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was the broker setting up the call between Haftar and Trump. Egypt considers the Muslim Brotherhood to be a banned terrorist group, responsible for the death, chaos, and destruction in Egypt since 2011.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, said “The Turkish move will certainly lead to a new reprisal by the countries supporting Haftar, particularly Egypt. There is a risk that, in reaction to Turkey’s more overt military engagement, other countries will also increase their military support to the Haftar side, and it might be an escalation of the conflict.”
Erdogan and Sarraj signed a security and maritime deal that serves the energy interests of both. By sending non-Turkish fighters to Libya, Erdogan does not need parliamentary approval. Russian media has reported at least 7,000 terrorists have arrived in Libya from Turkey, while Russia has stated their opposition to interference in Libya by foreign governments, or forces. The issue is surely on the agenda of the planned Jan. 8 meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan.