The fall of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in the past year represented a slap in the face for Ankara, especially after the present Sudanese authority’s efforts to eradicate the legacy of the old regime. Sudanese developments forced Turkey to transform its plan, currently seeking to turn Libya into a hotbed for extremism to compensate for its loss in Sudan and to pressure Khartoum on the Darfur crisis to recover the loss of Suakin.
CAIRO – The intensification of the Turkish strikes in Libya and the transfer of thousands of extremists to control large and vital areas carries many regional messages. Ankara will not forget the blow it suffered in Egypt with the fall of the Brotherhood regime seven years ago, and the repercussions that broke the back of the organization there.
Ankara did not suffer the same serious blow the Brotherhood received in Egypt because it maintained Sudan as a major focal point for extremist groups revolving in its orbit, and from Sudan, managed and directed them in the east, west, north and south.
The fall of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime a year ago represented a second, more painful blow. With it, the dreams of Ottoman Turkey in Sudan began to recede. Al-Bashir, the ruling National Congress Party and the Islamic movement had turned it into a hotspot attracting terrorists from all parts of the world, providing care, training, and guidance, before sending them to areas where organized violence was required.
New Sudan’s predicament: Authority falling apart
The new authority in Khartoum sent direct signals to Ankara, expressing the desire to dismantle previous engagements and break agreements that led to Turkish control of Suakin Island in the Red Sea, which Turkey wanted as a strategic base to further its goals in the region.
Reclaiming Suakin was decisive in expelling the Turkish presence. The situation of militant groups in Sudan remains vague. The government is focused on removing and dismantling remnants of the previous regime, but has not yet approached the sleeper cells of extremists in the Darfur region of western Sudan that maintain contact with Turkey and Qatar. This is an important element behind the ongoing tension in Darfur. The transitional authority tries to quell crises as they erupt, but they face complex political and security dilemmas that prevent peace and sustain the spectre of war.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan realized that the loss of Egypt and Sudan was a major blow to his Arab and African ambitions. The consequences of the fall of the two gateways was a strategic setback for his project in the region, especially since operations providing support to terrorists in Egyptian Sinai failed and skirmishes Ankara was launching in coordination with supporters of the Bashir regime are fraught with risk.
The fall of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime a year ago came to represent a second, more painful blow. With him, the dreams of Ottoman Turkey in Sudan began to diminish.
The Turkish regime tossed all its bets on the recent battle for western Libya, and accelerated moves since signing two naval and security memoranda of understanding last November with the National Accord government in Tripoli, to secure Erdogan’s Islamic project in the North African gateway, restore pressure on Egypt, and force Khartoum not to take new escalatory measures.
Currently, Ankara’s interests focus on securing its presence in western Libya, blocking operations carried out by the Libyan National Army, so that it can move south to benefit from the security and political instability, on to northern Chad, which suffers chronic problems with Boko Haram, pressuring Sudan from the vulnerable north region, from which a direct road to Darfur can be opened, all before Khartoum can reach a peace settlement with armed opposition movements and impose its grip on the region, preventing Ankara from circumventing it.
A large segment of Sudanese view Turkey’s exit from the Suakin Gate and developments in Libya with concern as it has the potential to unleash a bloodbath. Ankara has deployed a spectrum of extremists who share an ideology that considers violence and terrorism their most important instrument. The spokesman for the Arab Alliance for Sudan, Suleiman Sirri, said that the settlement of terrorism in Africa will be through Libya, which is confirmed with the smuggling of large numbers of Islamists from Sudan to Tripoli, where they are deployed in the Ankara-led war. He added that Libya is a strategic country for Erdogan’s support of the counter-revolution in Sudan, and media support provided by channels broadcast from Ankara come in conjunction with logistical support to the supporters of al-Bashir across the Libyan-Sudanese border.
Between two territories: A failed project
Sirri affirmed that Erdogan is trying to restore his lost influence by supporting the elements affiliated with the Brotherhood, providing training, equipment, funding, to confront the transitional authority and destabilize the Sudanese interior, conducting terrorist operations that are being prepared from Libya.
The Turkish presence in Libya needs an adjacent fertile environment to ensure the success of the Turkish expansion in Central Africa, a region teeming with Islamist groups opposed to local rulers. The state of security liquidity in a number of regions is leading to more coordination between Turkey and Islamist movements. There is a strong relationship between the Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur, Turkey and Qatar, and evidence to prove the involvement of some of its militants in terrorist operations in Tripoli.
Sudanese political activist, Hatem Ilias, said that the Turkish presence in Libya is one of the sources of support for the counter-revolution, which is monitored by several government departments, and this trend developed recently after Doha doubled media support via Al-Jazeera, while Turkey devoted itself to sending money and weapons to Bashir elements in Darfur through Libya.
He explained that Ankara is attempting to deal with the decline in the influence of political Islam in Egypt and Sudan through its presence in a country on their borders, and that Erdogan’s militia in Libya aim to revive the Brotherhood’s project. The final link in this project is to provide the elements of the Sudanese Islamic movement with money and arms to provoke violence and security chaos.
Translation by Internationalist 360°