Evacuation process of Turkish citizens from Libya started today at 3 a.m., Cemil Cicek, a government spokesman said. Turkish ferry boats Orhangazi-1 and Osmangazi-1 left Benghazi port at 5:00 a.m. with 3,000 Turkish citizens. Accompanying the ferries were special operations troop to provide security, as well as a frigate from Turkish Navy.

The Turkish consul to Benghazi, Ali Davutoglu, said: "There are approximately 6,500 Turkish citizens living in Benghazi region and most of them were workers for Turkish construction companies. We are getting reports that almost all job sites were plundered."



Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned Libyan authorities against making the "mistake" of ignoring the people's demands for democracy and freedom.

"One must not fall into the mistake of turning a blind eye to the people's demands for democracy and freedom. The Libyan administration must not commit such a mistake," Erdogan said in a speech to his party in parliament.

"Ruthless interventions against those who voice democratic demands will increase the spiral of violence... The spread of growing violence to the whole of Libya is dangerous," he said.

The Islamist-rooted Erdogan, a hero of the Arab street with his frequent outbursts against Israel and passionate defense of the Palestinians, had lent support to the anti-regime protesters in Egypt.

His remarks on Tuesday followed criticism at home that his stance on the turmoil in Libya had failed to match his strong reaction on Egypt.

Erdogan drew attention to thousands of Turks waiting for evacuation from Libya, where some 200 Turkish companies are involved in construction projects amounting to more than $15 billion.

"Our priority at the moment is the safe repatriation of Turkish nationals," he said.

"I would like to remind the Libyan authorities and the opposition in Libya that they must display maximum care to ensure the safety of foreigners in their country," he added.

Out of some 25,000 Turks based in Libya, about 1,000 have been repatriated so far.



Foreigners are seeking ways to escape from Libya as the country's leader Gaddafi is killing protesters. Nearly 25,000 Turks are currently waiting to be saved in Libya, which is on the verge of a civil war. More than 2,000 Turkish citizens have been brought back to Turkey so far. Citizens have been transferred to Egypt's Alexandria airport via an overland route. The number of ships sent to bring back Turkish citizens has been increased to five and a military vessel has also departed for Libya. Officials said 6,000 people could be transferred to Turkey each day once problems at ports and airports were resolved.



Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a message to Muammar Gaddafi: "One who sees his people as enemy and threat, cannot stand. An administration, which uses violence, cannot maintain its power."



The ongoing Libyan crisis, which now nears civil war, has forced Turkey and the United States to respond to the situation in ways completely different from how Ankara and Washington handled the Egyptian unrest.

At the height of the Egyptian crisis, Turkish leaders condemned former President Hosni Mubarak, diplomatically urging him to step down. Now, Turkey's reaction to Libya so far has not gone beyond expressing "deep concern." The United States, which played a role in Mubarak's exit and his replacement by the present military government in Egypt, is responding to the ordeal in Libya in a limited way.

Libya was part of or loosely attached to the Ottoman Empire between 1551 and 1911. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who came to power in a military coup in 1969, backed Turkey in the Cyprus crisis in the 1970s. The later relationship was more troubled, mostly because of Turkey's close ties with the West.

But in recent years, the relationship has flourished again. Now Turkish companies, mostly construction firms, have investments worth over $15 billion in Libya and thousands of Turkish workers have found jobs there. In this latest unrest, Ankara is struggling with the task of evacuating those thousands of Turks safely.

While the Mubarak administration, seen by several analysts as a rival force in the Middle East against Turkey's emerging leadership status, was kind of a soft opponent to pick, Ankara faces many risks in Libya. As a result Turkey likely is to wait until the outcome of the Libyan ordeal.

As for the United States, its relationship with Libya has always been problematic, with the Americans feeling a constant dislike for what one diplomat privately called the "irrational and flamboyant" style of Gadhafi.

After the 1969 coup, Gadhafi closed American and British bases and partially nationalized foreign oil and commercial interests in Libya. He also played a key role in promoting oil embargoes as a political weapon to challenge the West. When the CIA allegedly intercepted messages implying Libyan complicity in a Berlin discotheque terrorist bombing that killed two American servicemen, the United States mounted an aerial bombing attack against targets near Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986, killing several civilians, including Gadhafi's 2-year-old adopted daughter.

But in May 2006, Gadhafi made a groundbreaking overture to the West, dismantling Libya's weapons of mass destruction programs. In return Washington agreed to fully restore diplomatic relations and removed Libya from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, which Tripoli had been on for 27 years. In the following years, Libya's relations with the West gradually have improved.

What about now?

Gaddafi's regime showed signs of crumbling this week, with some officials at home and abroad resigning, some air force pilots defecting, reports that Benghazi, the second largest city, had fallen into hands of the protesters and the spread of fighting to Tripoli. The United States, on Sunday, issued its strongest condemnation of Libya's violent crackdown on the protesters, threatening to take "all appropriate actions" in response.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late Monday called on Gaddafi to "stop this unacceptable bloodshed" and said the world was watching the events "with alarm." But she refrained from calling on Libya's strongman to resign.

One problem is the United States does not have as much influence on Libya as it has on Egypt and Bahrain, because for a long time Tripoli had remained almost an enemy. The Americans have many concerns: First, if or when Gaddafi is toppled, who will replace him? American sources say there are strong signs that Islamic fundamentalists have a strong presence in the opposition forces taking over Benghazi. Another question is whether the bloodbath in Libya, with the killing of hundreds over the past week, could be replicated in other Arab lands.

The United States also is concerned that what happens in Tripoli might have deep repercussions in Algeria and Morocco, two U.S.-friendly governments to the west of Libya.

Another fearsome possibility is the country's potential division into at least two pieces. Fragmentation is a real danger in Libya, a country of deep tribal divisions and a historic rivalry between Tripoli and Benghazi.

And finally, Libya supplies two percent of the world's oil. The fighting there Monday already sent the oil prices to its highest in the past two-and-a-half years. The Americans fear that the unrest in Libya and other Arab lands may prompt a fresh oil crisis.



Turkey's Higher Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on Tuesday appointed chief prosecutors to nine regional appeals courts planned to established in a bid to reduce the number of cases awaiting verdict at the country's two top judicial bodies, the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State, the highest administrative court in Turkey.

The nine regional appeals courts will be based in Izmir, Bursa, Istanbul, Adana, Ankara, Samsun, Erzurum, Konya, and Diyarbakir.

Turkey's highly centralized judicial system has long been criticized for being too slow.

The debate has recently been fueled after a 2005 amendment to the country's criminal code entered into effect in 2011, which ordered the release of suspects who have stood trial without arrest for more than five years including several operatives of the Turkish Hezbollah -- a Sunni Islamist terrorist organization with no ties to Lebanese Hezbollah.

Eighteen Hezbollah suspects who have stood trial since July 2000 were set free including leaders such as Edip Gumus and Hacı Inan, who were charged with murdering 103 people by burying them alive.

"The basic problem of the Turkish judicial system is that it is too slow. The number of cases closed at the Supreme Court of Appeals due to statute of limitations in 2010 alone reached around 20,000. Cases pile up 25-30 percent each year with an annual rate of 1.9 million. The same also holds true for the Council of State. And now, we are working on the introduction of nine regional appeals courts to reduce those numbers," Sadullah Ergin, Turkey's justice minister, said in a Turkey-EU meeting in southern province of Hatay on Monday.



German President Christian Wulff sent a thank-you letter to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who helped secure the release of two German journalists arrested in Iran. Wulff said in his letter: "You were a great help to Germany. I'm ready to do my best, if Turkey needs help some day. I'm grateful for your friendship and help."



The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that the people were under pressure. Delivering a speech at his party's parliamentary group meeting, Kilicdaroglu said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarded the state as a tool of pressure.



The second president Mehmet Ali Talat of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) claimed that Turkey and TRNC had serious problems for the first time in their history. "We have some troubles with Turkey. Our people living in Turkey don't want to say that they are from TRNC. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made harsh statements regarding Turkish Cypriots," Talat said.



Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, addressed a session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women as an honorary guest. Erdogan told during the gathering that she had seen women in tears in Gaza whose children had been killed with phosphorus bombs.


© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.