The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday some statements that shocked Libyans as he boasted about the Ottoman history in Libya and the “struggle of the founder of Turkey’s Republic Mustafa Kamal Atatürk and the fighting he led in Libya.
Erdogan’s statements came in a ceremony for a new Turkey-made submarine as he justified his country’s intervention in Libya and the security and military agreement with the Government of National Accord.
“Atatürk was struggling in Libya on all frontlines and this is how we know we should be there as a million Turks are present in Libya.” He added.
Libyans were truly shocked by these remarks as he considered one million of Libya’s population “Turks”, saying they are Libyans with strong social ties and tribal heritage for hundreds of years and that there had been no demographic changes that brought a million Turks to Libya.
A while after Erdogan’s statements, Libyans made the hashtag #I’m_Libyan_and_part_of_the_million_Turks. Hundreds of tweets were made under the hashtag.
Meanwhile, many activists saw Erdogan desperate to say that Turkey has a right in Libya to justify his intervention amid reports that say Ankara is preparing to send weapons and fighters to back up GNA forces in Libya.
Erdogan’s remarks remind us also of statements made by Dr. Ali Salabi, who said most of Misrata locals have Turkish roots, hailing the support of Turkey to Misrata in toppling Moammar Gaddafi in 2011.