Turkey has signed agreements with African countries to train their troops, said retired Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, the former chief military aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, signaling that the notorious private contractor is looking for opportunities to tap into military deals in Africa.
Tanrıverdi owns private military contractor SADAT, which many believe is a de facto paramilitary force loyal to the Islamist president of Turkey. He continues to advise the Erdoğan government on military matters, although he left his official position as advisor in January 2020.
An article published by Tanrıverdi in May 2014 revealed that one of the main objectives of Turkey’s defense cooperation with African countries was to provide special training programs to their security forces. According to Tanrıverdi, an important figure in Erdoğan’s inner circle, Turkey should share its military capabilities with those countries enjoying close social, economic and political ties to the Turkish government. Since 2013, SADAT has been conducting military training programs in Africa.
“Turkey has close social, economic and political relations with more than 35 Saharan and Sub-Saharan countries in Africa. [Turkey] carries out [military] activities with some of those countries in accordance with military training cooperation agreements,” Tanrıverdi stated, adding that “almost all the young African states need special training programs for high-level officers in their internal [police] and external [military] security forces. Turkey provides its capabilities to most of those countries free of charge in the context of military aid packages.”
In addition to military training agreements, Turkey’s defense cooperation deals with African countries include articles setting forth conditions of joint training programs and facilitating technical visits to research centers and personnel exchanges between military institutions and private companies.
For instance, Article 4 of the Turkey-Chad defense industry cooperation deal allows technical visits and personnel exchanges between institutions and companies. Similarly, deals with Sudan, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and other African countries facilitate technical visits to research centers and personnel exchanges between institutions and companies.
Nordic Monitor previously reported how President Erdoğan cited a Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding (MoU) on military training cooperation signed in 2012 as a pretext for sending Turkish troops to the war-torn country. Appearing on public broadcaster TRT on December 9, 2019, Erdoğan made reference to the MoU in a bid to justify sending Turkish troops to Libya.
Turkey also signed a military and security cooperation agreement in November 2019 with the Tripoli-based, UN-backed Government of National Accord under the leadership of Fayez al-Sarraj. The agreement allowed the provision of training, consultancy, experience transfer, planning and material support by Turkey for the establishment of a Quick Reaction Force covering police and military responsibilities in Libya. Today, Turkey has deployed troops in line with those accords.
According to SADAT’s web page, the company started providing military training and consultancy to Libyan security authorities in 2013. Tanrıverdi, the founder of SADAT, visited the country in May 2013 in order to “determine the needs of New Libyan Armed Forces and search for possibilities for Consultancy, Training, Ordnance service delivery for Libya” and met with Libyan military officials. SADAT then devised a project, titled “Sports Facilities Design for a Military Regiment,” for the Libyan military.
During his visit Tanrıverdi was also received by the then-Turkish ambassador in Tripoli, Ali Kemal Aydın, who is currently the Turkish envoy in Berlin.
Tanrıverdi announced in December 2019 that SADAT, which is fully funded and supported by the Turkish government, has been working to pave the way for the long-awaited mahdi (prophesied redeemer of Islam), for whom the entire Muslim world is waiting.
Turkey’s opposition lawmakers had asked the government about the alleged role of SADAT in training Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Syrian al-Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusrah (al-Nusrah Front) fighters and alleged close relations between Turkish intelligence agency MİT and SADAT. Moreover, SADAT was accused of training jihadists sent by Turkey to Libya.