Turkish nationals could be targeted by sanctions due to their controversial role in Libya

President Erdoğan met with Fayez Al Sarraj at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul on November 27, 2019. Turkish officials having role in Turkey’s Libya policy are also seen at the table.

Nordic Monitor


Turkish government officials responsible for negotiating the Turkey-Libya security cooperation and maritime accords and private citizens who are involved in the violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and US executive orders might be candidates for US sanctions and could be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

During talks on November 27 in Istanbul, the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to both a security deal and a joint maritime boundary between southwest Turkey and northeast Libya.

Nordic Monitor previously reported how these agreements contravene Paragraphs 9 and 10 of UNSC Resolution 1970 (2011), which refer the situation (Paragraph 4) in Libya to the prosecutor of the ICC. Following the signing of the agreements, President Erdoğan’s government stepped up illegal activities in Libya that are also banned by UNSC Resolutions 2174 (2014) and 2213 (2015). Thus, the ICC could in due course open an investigation into the deals, into experts who took part in the negotiations from both parties and the consequences of the deal.

Moreover, the security cooperation and maritime accords paved the way for the systematic violation of sanctions imposed by US Executive Orders 13566 (2011) and 13726 (2016). These orders block the property in the United States of any person determined to be engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Libya or impede its political transition to a successor government. Turkish authorities, companies and officials could also be deemed to have violated Libya sanctions imposed by the US.

In addition to the Turkish officials and businessmen who were recently exposed by a Nordic Monitor report President Erdoğan’s ministers, close aides and diplomats might also be targeted by sanctions due to their role in the destabilization of Libya.


Hulusi Akar (right) and Hakan Fidan.


On January 2, 2020 Turkey’s parliament authorized the Turkish government to send military forces to Libya in accordance with the security cooperation deal. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who signed the security cooperation agreement in Istanbul, continues to play a significant role in the deployment of Turkish troops to the North African country.

President Erdoğan’s former chief military advisor and retired Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, who already owns controversial private military contractor SADAT, which many believe is a de facto paramilitary force loyal to Erdoğan.

In the meantime, Turkey accelerated its operations to send Erdoğan’s private paramilitary units (SADAT) and jihadists to fight for the GNA. In December 2019 Turkey initiated the transport of jihadists from Syria’s Idlib region to Libya and set up the legal basis for exporting its radical Islamist mercenaries to the North African country, local media reported. According to the reports, Turkey has already deployed over 300 “Syrian fighters” to Libya. The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, is the man behind the transfer of Idlib-based jihadists to Libya.

Turkish lawmaker and former Ambassador to Italy Aydın Adnan Sezgin claimed in parliament on December 21, 2019 during a debate over the Turkish-Libyan defense pact that the security cooperation agreement equivocates by use of the words “security and defense organizations” and “civilians from security organizations” in an effort to clear the way for SADAT. Sezgin also accused the Erdoğan government of looking for ways to transfer jihadists in Syria’s Idlib region to Libya.



Emrullah İşler is seen addressing parliament.


Emrullah İşler, a member of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former deputy prime minister, was named President Erdoğan’s special representative to Libya in 2014. Since then, he has regularly visited Libya and coordinated Erdoğan’s official and private contacts with jihadist groups in Libya.

“We are responding to a request for help from the internationally recognized government there,” he told parliament before the vote for Turkish military deployment on January 2, 2020. 


Ambassador Yunus Demirer


Under the leadership of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, diplomatic talks over the military cooperation deal were coordinated by Yunus Demirer, director general for bilateral relations with the Middle East and North Africa at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and Turkish Ambassador to Libya Serhat Aksen.



Chairman of Turkey’s Presidency of the Defense Industry İsmail Demir



The UN Panel of Experts on Libya, which was established pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1973, identified multiple and routine military equipment (drones, armored vehicles, laser weapons and other arms and ammunition) shipments in 2019 from Turkey by Turkish authorities, companies and individuals in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1970. The panel determined that the military vehicles deployed to Libya were owned by Turkey’s Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSM).

According to the report Turkish companies such as BMC Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.., Baykar Makina, Akdeniz Roro Deniz Tasimaciligi Turizm Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Sti., ProAir-CharterTransport GmbH, Plures Air Cargo, Aykar Nakliyat, Bahriye Nur Karabilgin/Cem Gumrukleme Gida Silah Hiozm and Dis Tic were in non-compliance with Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 for their certain involvement in the procurement and physical transfer of military materiel to the GNA.



İrfan Özsert, the head of Turkish military intelligence and general Secretary of the Turkish General Staff., was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in August 2019 by President Erdoğan.


Furthermore, the panel noted “the presence of thirty Turkish fighters working for militias allied to the GNA-AF.” The panel also revealed that a Turkish team in Libya was “led by Major General Irfan Tut Ozert [İrfan Özsert].”

In June, 2019 the Al Marsad (Observatory) newspaper shared the identities of a senior Turkish military intelligence team operating in Libya and published copies of the passports of the Turkish generals and diplomats who were detained by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).



Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay (left) commented on Turkey’s plan to send troops to Libya: “He who thinks too much about consequences cannot be a hero.”


Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 bans UN member states from “the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer … of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel.”

According to Paragraph 10 of the same resolution, Libya “shall cease the export of all arms and related materiel and Member States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by their nationals, or using their flagged vessels or aircraft …”

UNSC resolutions 2174 (2014) and 2213 (2015) stress the growing trend of terrorist groups in Libya to proclaim allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS); the continued presence of other al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations and individuals operating in Libya; and reaffirms the need to combat by all means and expresses the determination to use targeted sanctions in pursuit of stability, and against those individuals and entities who threaten stability in the country.

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