By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Recent reports that Turkey transferred arms to Idlib and armored vehicles to Libya show how Turkey’s diplomacy is also one of arming regional allies. In this case both are in unstable areas and both are intended to expand Turkey’s influence.
On May 25 Reuters noted :
Turkey sends weapons to Syrian rebels facing Russian-backed assault: Syrian sources
The article says “Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian rebels it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and rebel sources said on Saturday.”
Back in December Reuters also reported:
Libya complains of arms cargo from Turkey, joint investigation launched
At the time the report noted “Libya and Turkey agreed on Saturday to open an urgent joint investigation into a consignment of arms which arrived from Turkey and was seized at a port near Tripoli this week, the UN-backed Libyan government said. The government released the statement following talks in Tripoli between Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.”
On May 18th a subsequent report appeared to show that Turkey was now supporting the Tripoli forces against Haftar’s offensive. “A coalition of forces allied with Libya’s U.N.-backed government of national accord (GNA) said it had received a shipment of armored vehicles and arms on Saturday as it tries to stop Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) from taking the capital, Tripoli….Earlier this month, a Tripoli government spokesman said his administration was talking to its ally Turkey to obtain ‘anything that is needed to stop the assault,’ including military and civilian help…Pictures and videos posted by the coalition on its Facebook pages showed what appeared to be dozens of Turkish-made BMC Kirpi armored vehicles in Tripoli port. The GNA and the Turkish Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.”
Because Turkey and Qatar tend to work together on the Libya file, while the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are closer to Haftar, the shipment has regional implications. The Arab Weekly says:
Turkish involvement in Libya raises regional security concerns in Egypt
This is important. Turkey’s role in Libya and Idlib is important. Its military support for Qatar, going back to 2017 when it sent troops to defend the Emirate amid the Gulf crises, was a major play for Ankara.
Turkey sends more troops to Qatar
Turkey also has a military base in Somalia.
Turkey opens military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers
In September 2017 Reuters wrote. “Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base on Saturday in Somalia’s capital, cementing its ties with the volatile but strategic Muslim nation and building a presence in East Africa.”