With Names and Instances: How Turkey Intervenes in Lebanon’s Conflict

The Kurdish Center for Strategic Studies has issued a report, indicating the imminent danger surrounding the Lebanese city of Tripoli and its people.

The report’s headline is: That’s How Turkey Prepares to Occupy Lebanon’s Tripoli and Its People.

The first statement was made by the Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, confirming the intervention of foreign parties aiming to destabilize the country. The minister said that four Turkish and two Syrians were on board of an aircraft that arrived in Lebanon from Turkey with USD 4 million in cash, being investigated after entering Lebanon. They claimed to be owners of a money exchange company.

“We do not know whether these funds are for smuggling and manipulating the dollar prices, or to fuel violent movements in the street. Additionally, some instructions come from Turkey via WhatsApp to some parties in the popular movement,” the minister said.

The second statement is made by the leader of the Free Syrian Army, Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh, who warned a Lebanese journalist in a telephone conversation: “The Lebanese should be alert in the coming August and September in Tripoli and the north by movements of the Syrian opposition groups backed by Turkey in cooperation with one of the Tripoli political leader.”

The third statement came from a northern religious leader, who has long history in political work. He said in a private meeting: “All countries, people and apparatuses need months and perhaps years to occupy Tripoli by force or by love, except for Turkey and Erdogan. They need one minute! Once Turkey’s Erdogan decides, he will have overwhelming popular support for his decision.”

“Erdogan, thanks to his media and political performance, has occupied the hearts and minds of Tripoli people who have undergone a long journey to find a leader. „While everyone is absent, the task will be easier for Erdogan,” the religious leader adds.

According to a security survey, the Turkish action map in Lebanon, the north in particular, does not depend on one track; it rather goes through three tracks, but the goal is one, which is the control of North Lebanon.

The first track:

This track is under the control of the Turkish Central Intelligence Agency.

There are three local parties that communicate directly with the Turkish intelligence services, namely:

  1. The former minister, Major General Ashraf Rifi.
  2. The Islamic Charitable Projects Association (Al-Ahbash).
  3. Nabil Al-Halabi Forums (loyal to Bahaa Al-Hariri).

Major General Rifi had contacted and coordinated with the Turkish intelligence services officially due to the nature of his work when he was at the head of the Directorate of the Internal Security Forces and then Minister of Justice. This communication and coordination continued after leaving the Ministry of Justice, with a recommendation to limit this communication to the intelligence service in Ankara away from the embassy in Beirut. But this communication stopped after his loss in the recent parliamentary elections, although his supporters organized marches and carried the Turkish flag when Erdogan won the elections.

“The issue of my relation with the Turkish presence in Tripoli has been brought up several times before the Supreme Council of Defense, and they have repeatedly tried to find evidence of this, but to no avail, although that no intelligent person can hide himself 100%,” Rifi told Asas News.

Refi asserts that these accusations are spread by certain parties to delude the others that he runs Turkish alliances in Tripoli. “This is not true,” he says.

As for the northern forums, known as the forums of Nabil Al-Halabi, and supervised by Nasr Maamari, who was dismissed from Al-Zahra Hospital for being the link between the forums and Turkey. Maamari did not deny this relation, saying that there is misunderstanding for his activity in the forum and his job in the hospital that has no relation with Turkey.

The Islamic Charitable Projects Association – Al-Ahbash appears to be the most secretive, as monitors observed that one of its significant leaders visit Turkey almost every month.

“Whoever accuses us of having connections with Turkey depends on the fact that the lawyer Nabil Al-Halabi is stuck in Turkey because of the airport closure,” Maamari added, but forgot that the flights between Lebanon and Turkey have been resumed and Nabeel Al-Halabi had not yet returned.

The forums are active today in Turkey, and according to security reports, they contribute in organizing courses and training workshops for Tripoli cadres in Turkey’s Hatay, on how to manage and organize street protests, under the supervision of Syrian opposition activists.

The second track:

It is supervised by the AKP Party and its activity in Beirut is confined to one group: the Islamic Group. The thought of MB unites both parties in Turkey and Lebanon. This coordination in the north comes through two paths, the first is organizational and led by A.H., and the other is educational and led by Dr. Othman Shafiq Talib, who led the Turkish campaign against Armenian allegations in Lebanon through a series of lectures in Beirut and the North.

The coordination between the group and AKP is carried out through periodic visits to Turkey.

Security sources indicate that a special budget is allocated monthly for this track, of which a portion is devoted to courses of thinking skill that take place in two training centers established two years ago.

The first is in Beirut, inside the Mazraa Corniche area, and the second is in Tripoli. The two centers hosted a number of non-Lebanese trainees before the start of the October 17 revolution.

The third track

This track is supervised directly by the Turkish embassy in Beirut, and its activity is divided into three sides: The first is Lebanese political and civil societies. Its leader was director of medical institutions in Al-Azm institutions of President Najib Mikati, and his services were dispensed in previous stage.

He is now based in Turkey, where he opened a restaurant. Investigative information indicates that he is still in contact with a number of associations in Tripoli, providing support through his brother and through two German institutions, the first is Jiz, supervised by Turks, and the second is the Civil Union.

A source in al-Azm stream describes him as the “kind man” as he says: “The Movement has a good relation with all civil, social and cultural associations in Tripoli, including some associations of a Turkish nature, and we are not ashamed of this.”

The source defends G.’s relation with Turkey: “He has Turkish roots, as he holds dual nationalities, Egyptian from his mother, and Turkish from his Lebanese father, who is of Turkish origin. So, he is Turkish, and this is his role in the movement.

The second side is through Dr. M. who is married to a Turkish woman that has significant activities in Turkish organizations. He is the coordinator of Turkish support between the embassy and the Secretary-General of the Future Movement, Ahmed Hariri, through the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Development, whose services were abandoned, with the deterioration of Turkish-GCC relations.

The third side is represented in Tripoli’s Municipality “Hurras al-Madina”, receiving Turkish support, according to the security map, through Dr. Jamal Badawi, a former member of the Tripoli Municipal Council, and a candidate on civil society regulations in the recent parliamentary elections, including over 500 people.

Tripoli municipality denies any suspicious social activity for the Turkish associations. The sources confirm that the agency of Turkish embassy TIKA, like any other foreign agency in Lebanon, such as the French, German, Spanish, it implements joint projects with the Lebanese state and distributed aid during the holy month of Ramadan through the municipality, like other embassies that received the municipality’s message to support the people of Tripoli socially. The municipality adds that it has partnerships, particularly cultural, with the Turkish embassy agency, to restore the monuments in the city.

The third side includes the Turkmen associations in Lebanon. The female candidate in the last parliamentary elections, Gulay Al-Asaad, from the town of Al-Kawashra, and the daughter of the officer, Khaled Al-Asad, who was the first coordinator of the Turkmen-Turkish relations before his retirement; coordinates between the embassy and the associations.

Turkmen associations in Lebanon fall under the name of Lebanese-Turkish Associations, according to a request and recommendation from the Turkish embassy in Beirut, since it allocated a large budget from the Turkish government. The budget is divided into two parts: the first is for the expenses of full-time centers, activities and salaries of workers in the associations, while the other is for university scholarships offered to the people of the Turkic Akkar villages. These scholarships cover the costs of studying, residency, and students’ monthly expenses in Turkey.

The associations include:

  • The Lebanese Turkish Cultural Association in Eidmon, which was established in 2010 and is chaired by Kamal Maqsoud. It is concerned with the Lebanese Turkmen in Eidmon and is considered as one of the leading societies in providing university scholarships for studying in Turkey.
  • The Lebanese Turkmen Association founded in 2012 and chaired by Ahmed Al-Turkmani, providing care and assistance to approximately 25,000 people in the villages of Akkar and the city of Tripoli.
  • The Lebanese Turkish Brotherhood Association, which was founded in 2012 in the town of El Kawashra.
  • Inmaa Hawara Turkmen Society, founded in 2015 in Majdalaya, Zgharta District, headed by Muhammad Turkmani.
  • Duras Social Charitable Society in Baalbek. Established in 2006 and represented by Ali Ibrahim Ghurli.

The main association in Tripoli is the Lebanese-Turkish Friendship Association (Tulip), which was founded in 2008 and chaired by Dr. Khaled Tadmari, and its work is focused on the Turkish “Tika” Foundation.

The President of the Lebanese Turkmen Association, Ahmed Turkmani, does not deny that the association gets financial support from the Turkish embassy, ​​but he claims that the aid is educational, and it is represented in scholarships in Turkish universities, but he refuses to talk about direct financial support.

Finally: Turkey’s presence in Tripoli is not just a rumor, it is rather a reality that reflects the Arab absence, pushed the city to fall in love with the Turks.

The question is: What is the goal of Turkish expansion, whether under social pretexts or educational ones? And what is the reason for bringing all those millions of dollars, by air, from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to Rafiq Hariri Airport in Beirut?

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