A news report published by Sky News Arabia revealed that Turkish arms-manufacturing companies have carried out processing works at the “51” military manufacturing factory in the city of Bani Walid. This follows after reports yesterday that the Turkish forces had breached the UN arms embargo by installing an air defence and jamming system inside this factory in Bani Walid, given its strategic location to support Turkish military actions within Libya and outside the country.
(LIBYA, 20 July 2021) – The Sky News Arabia report quoted informed sources saying that the aim was to restore the factory to begin work again, and noted the presence of a Turkish security delegation that included a number of representatives of various Turkish companies visited the “51” military manufacturing factory on 31 May in Bani Walid to inspect the site and prepare for full operations.
STRATEGIC LOCATION FOR TURKISH-WEAPONS SUPPORT
According to to the report, the sources said the Turkish companies are seeking to use the factory to provide technical support for the Turkish-made weapons used by armed militias, along with some Western versions, in addition to providing various munitions and projectiles, especially for Turkish drones by exploiting the strategic location of the city of Bani Walid in the center of the country.
The report added that this site constitutes a point from where support can be provided to armed militias loyal to Ankara in various locations in the west of the country, and can be used for future operations outside Libya. The report quoted the journalist Al-Hussein al-Maysuri who said that the move was the result of an illegal security MOU concluded between the Turkish authorities with Fayez Sarraj of the former Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
Al-Maysuri explained that this illegal MOU was followed with the signing of a series of cooperation protocols that represented an unprecedented breach of state institutions, especially since Turkish companies obtained during the current executive authority stage contracts to secure airports and its electronic systems, cybersecurity and management of the customs system in ports.
TURKEY CONTROLS JOINTS OF THE LIBYAN STATE
He added that this matter clearly represents Turkish control over the Libyan state, particularly at a time when Turkey will not be able to launch any military adventures openly and its movements need to remain within the framework of the ceasefire agreement. Turkey, however, continues to exercise political pressure in order to achieve gains in the current political dialogue among the Libyan parties.
The report also quoted political researcher Zahi Allawi who suggested imposing international sanctions on Turkish companies involved in violating the United Nations resolution on arms embargo to Libya. He said that turning a blind eye to such abuses will not last long given the many reports available now on infringements to the embargo.
Allawi added that the world had previously monitored suspicious Turkish equipment and weapons that were transferred to Libya in violation of the UN resolution, and the European operation IRINI found Turkish cargo ships on several occasions transporting weapons. He said IRINI feared for months that Turkish forces would transfer of internationally banned materials.
DEPLOYING AIR DEFENCE SYSTEMS IN BANI WALID
Yesterday, the Libyan television channel 218 News revealed that Turkish forces had installed an air defence and jamming system inside the military manufacturing factory in the town of Bani Walid.
Sources had told 218 News that the Turkish officers entered Bani Walid a few days ago, taking advantage of the operations carried out by the 444th Brigade which was under the command of Mahmoud Hamza. The report said the 444th Brigade is allegedly taking action without consulting any other security apparatus, and the government is supposedly unaware of these movements in Bani Walid.
The installation of the system comes within the framework of Ankara’s fear of any movements of the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Bani Walid.
EU WORRIED ABOUT TURKISH MILITARY MOVES
The EU has clearly noticed the military escalation by the Turkish forces in Libya. A report this week published by EUobserver website leaked an internal paper from the EU foreign service which proposed a possible EU military mission to Libya. The paper argued that Libya’s peace process required “large-scale disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) of combatants as well as a fundamental security sector reform (SSR).”
The paper said: “In this context, an EU military CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] engagement should … be considered in order not to leave the entire field of activity in the military domain to third states.”
“In the long term and when conditions allow, a military CSDP engagement with a mandate to support the SSR process in the military domain [should] be considered,” it added.
The paper did not name did not name the third states engaged in competition in Libya, but the EU paper did allude to Turkey, when it said one “third country” had “continued denial of inspections” of suspected arms shipments to Libya in violation of a UN embargo.
The same country, said the paper, “maintains a strong military presence in Libya and provides training to selected armed forces in western Libya”, especially Libya’s coastguard and navy, it noted, after Turkey sent troops to Libya last year.
The EU internal paper is said to have “painted a worrying picture of Libya”, with many foreign fighters and with oil, arms, and human trafficking still going on unabated. It explained that Turkey’s Defence Ministry has been tweeting about the interception of migrants off of Libya’s coast, prompting fears that Ankara may gain further leverage over the EU by taking control of the central Mediterranean migration route, as well as the one it already controls via Greece.
Although the spokesperson for the European Union’s High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy, Nabila Massrali, denied on Monday that there was any discussion of sending a military mission to Libya at the present time, however it seems realistically plausible that the EU is monitoring Turkish activities with increasing concern.