Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Quasi-Janissary Corps Emerges

Turkey has joined the "fight-my-enemies-to-the-last-dead-Arab"  club in Libya:

Currently the Turkish contribution has been over 2,000 Syrian mercenaries and a few hundred Turkish troops serving in non-combat jobs. Turkey has also provided dozens of missile armed UAVs that provide air support for the GNA forces.

Although Turkey has already used Syrian proxies to fight in northwest Syria in Idlib and for their Kurdish incursion in the east. But at least those Syrians are fighting in their own country. Being sent abroad to Libya as some sort of Turkish Janissary Corps to fight for the GNA against the LNA in that civil war is rather new.

I did wonder if Turkey's intervention in the Libya civil war would include direct combat troops, as I asked in this data dump:

Turkey says it has begun sending troops to Libya. They already had support personnel there. So what does this mean? More trainers and support people or actual combat troops? I'd be shocked if it's the latter, but who knows what Sultan Erdogan wants as he makes his move. Once the Soviet threat of invading Turkey from the east and west plus from the Black Sea evaporated in 1991, Turkey has had room to revive quasi-imperial ambitions.

I thought that Turkish combat troops were unlikely but didn't consider the possibility that Turkey would send Syrians to die for Turkey's ambitions.

But hey, if you have quasi-imperial ambitions quasi-Janissaries make perfect sense.

UPDATE: Italy and Cyprus reject the sea border and economic concession deal that Turkey concluded with the rump but UN-recognized government of Libya.

And France is also upset that Turkey is sending forces to Libya:

Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Macron also described a maritime deal between Turkey and Libya's U.N.-backed government as a “void document" with no legal or political standing.

“These past few days we have seen Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is a serious and explicit infringement of what was agreed upon in Berlin," Macron said, referring to an international summit in the German capital earlier this month.

Four Turkish frigates are off the coast of Libya in international waters.

UPDATE: Strategypage has more on the Libya situation where Russia and Turkey back opposite sides. Turkey has to do a lot more intervening to help its side win. And Turkey is having regrets over siding with Russia over Syria, too.

As I noted in the last data dump:

>Erdogan is alienating NATO ally America in favor of promoting friendship with long-time enemy Russia. And outside of Erdogan's fantasy world, Russia backs Syria's attacks in northwest Syria over Turkish objections--which continues to make progress in Idlib province--while Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides in the Libyan civil war. Brilliant!

Ah, what are the odds Turkey will need the good will of formal NATO allies?

UPDATE: That would definitely put a crimp in the Russia-Turkey budding friendship:

Turkey may launch a military operation into Syria's northwestern Idlib province if the situation is not resolved immediately, President Tayyip Erdogan said Friday as attacks by Russia-backed Syrian government forces risked a new wave of refugees.

Who knew centuries-long enemies would have trouble being best autocratic buddies?

UPDATE: Our AFRICOM commander isn't pleased with Turkey's intervention:

Turkey’s deployment of troops to war-torn Libya to head off the threat of private Russian military contractors threatens a significant escalation in the months-long conflict, the top US military officer in Africa said today.

How high will Turkey escalate?

UPDATE: Related thoughts.