Military and intelligence sources in Yemen have claimed that up to 200 mercenaries from that country have been sent to Libya by Turkey to fight on behalf of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
The claims, disclosed by the Yemen News Portal, allege that a militia affiliated to the Islah Party in Marib sent fighters to Turkey under the guise of receiving hospital treatment, and that they were then transferred to the Libyan capital Tripoli. The sources added that Libyan National Army (LNA) forces headed by General Khalifa Haftar have already captured a number of Yemeni mercenaries fighting on behalf of the GNA earlier this year. LINK
The latest disclosures follow several reports relating evidence that Turkey is increasing its involvement in Yemen substantially, providing training and material support to the Islah Party in particular in the hope of gaining control over key facilities and resources in the event Islah manages to secure control over parts of the war torn country. LINK
The increasing attention being paid to the possibility of significant Turkish intervention in the conflict in Yemen followed the dramatic battlefield successes of the GNA due to the massive support provided by Turkey after concluding an agreement granting Turkey expansive resource rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The latest reports raise questions as to whether Turkey might be considering expanding its involvement in Yemen, either as part of the ‘proxy war’ against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in particular or in order to gain control over infrastructure, possible military bases, and/ or resources in the geo-strategically vital area. LINK
The rivalry between the regional powers intensified considerably after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Qatar and attempted to impose a blockade on the country in 2017, in response to which Turkey provided critical support and supplies to Qatar to enable it to withstand the pressure.
If it can be verified that Turkey intends to increase its participation in the conflict in Yemen and is now recruiting large numbers of fighters from Yemen to send to Libya, it would demonstrate that Turkey’s already expansive geopolitical ambitions are surpassing all limits: enormously destructive military adventures in northern Syria and Iraq which seem set to pave the way for the annexation of substantial territories in each country adjacent to the Turkish border; followed by the transfer of thousands of its proxy militias and terrorists from the battlefields in Syria to Libya earlier this year to fight on behalf of the GNA, with which Turkey has signed resource agreements granting exploration rights in disputed maritime zones also claimed by Egypt, Greece and Cyprus.
Turkey has also been involved in recent military stand-offs with Greece and France in the Mediterranean.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkey has recruited over 10,000 Syrians to fight in Libya. South Front has previously reported that Turkey has cut off support to at least one of its proxy groups in northern Syria for refusing to send fighters to Libya. LINK
In turn, the GNA has accused the LNA of recruiting foreign mercenaries. On Saturday 27 June, Libya’s permanent representative to the UN called for the imposition of sanctions against Russian and Sudanese mercenaries in the country fighting on behalf of the LNA.
It is thought that the Islah Party in Yemen may be deepening a political and military alliance with Turkey, and that it may be sending soldiers to fight on behalf of Turkish interests in Libya in return for financial and military support provided by Turkey to the Islah Party, in particular to assist the group in its conflict with UAE-backed militia in the south of the country.
Also, according to the Yemen Press Agency:
The sources said the Islah party is trying to consolidate the military alliance with Turkey in fighting alongside it in Libya, in preparation for its call for intervention in Yemen, as the Saudi-Emirati coalition turned against the party. LINK
The reports provide additional corroboration that Turkey has no intention of backing off in Libya and is willing to risk provoking an all-out war with Egypt in its pursuit of foreign resources and military bases, apart from suggesting multiple motivations for its deepening involvement in Yemen.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Turkey suspends support to one its Syrian proxy groups for refusing to send fighters to Libya
- Turkey is increasing its involvement in Yemen conflict-reports