The Address | Benghazi – Libya
A shipment of Turkish weapons and armored vehicles have been unloaded at Tripoli seaport. They arrived Saturday on board a Moldovan-flagged ro-ro vessel, named Amazon. Libya is under an arms embargo by the United Nations Security Council since 2011.
Photos and videos of the received 40 or so armored vehicles and weapons were posted by the hardline Samoud Brigade led by Misratan militant Salah Badi on its Facebook page. Salah Badi is listed on the United Nations and the United States sanctions list for his role in the 2014 Operation Libya Dawn that let to burning down the Tripoli Internationa Airport.
The vehicles have been rushed to Tripoli by Ankara in the hope of making a difference on the ground in the fighting between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the various forces supporting Faiez Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
According to marinetraffic.com, the Amazon sailed from the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun on 9 May. According to myshiptracking.com, though, it then arrived in Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Izmnir on 14 May and left 14 hours later on 15 May, arriving in Tripoli just before 8am on Saturday.
The armored vehicles unloaded include the Kirpi (Turkish for “Hedgehog”), a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle built in by the joint Turkish-Qatari vehicle manufacturer BMC, which is based in Samsun.
BMC was sold in 2014 to the Qatar Armed Forces Industry Committee and Turkish businessman Ethem Sancak, a member of the governing body of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and said to be one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest confidantes.
The BMC is to start making Turkey’s new battle tank, the Altay. It won the Turkish government’s contract in April last year to produce it and in a controversial develioment, last December was handed the country’s national tank factory by the government for a 25-year period. In March it was reported that Qatar had ordered 100 of them.
According to the Turkish opposition Nordic Monitor report, there have been news that Erdogan is the owner of BMC, and that Sanjak “is merely a caretaker looking after the Turkish president’s business interests”.
In January, Erdogan declared that Turkish-Qatari cooperation would “continue to strengthen” when he officially launched Turkey’s first home-grown military motor engine production unit at the new $180-million BMC plant in Karasu in north-western Turkey.