New Delhi: In the series of back to back visits by the top brass of Pakistani armed forces to Turkey, Chief of Pakistani Air Force, General Mujahid Anwar Khan travelled to the country and met Adnan Tanriverdi — a close confidante of President Erdogan and his former military advisor on 15th January 2021. The Pakistani General discussed the strategies on ‘supporting’ the Turkish organisation Justice Defenders Strategic Research Centre Association (ASSAM) and firm Tanriverdi-led SADAT for their operations in Pakistan.
Zee News has learnt that a major objective behind the trip was to plan and coordinate a common strategy between Turkey and Pakistan to build capabilities on two fronts — proxy warfare and exploiting terrorists by deploying them as mercenaries in different parts of the world. On the Pakistani side, ISI is believed to be heading the strategy, whereas Adnan Tanriverdi is coordinating from the Turkish side.
According to Turkish media reports, General Mujahid Anwar reiterated his commitment to security and ‘training’ by capitalising on the respective strengths of each side. Digging deeper into the past developments and exposures, highlight the actual objective between meetings of the military leadership of both the countries.
Pakistani Army officers and ISI operatives have accelerated their meetings with Tanriverdi to strengthen Turkey-Pakistan cooperation in proxy warfare. Experts argue that Pakistan has an experience spanning many years in proxy warfare in Afghanistan and Kashmir and is helping Turkey out to build its capacity in this specific genre of warfare.
Tanriverdi is the founder of the pro-Erdogan paramilitary force SADAT International Defence Consultancy — an outfit operating as a firm that provides security services and training. Geopolitical experts and Turkish dissidents have, at multiple times, highlighted that Erdogan deploys mercenaries across the world through SADAT.
It is believed that after his dismissal from the Turkish Army on charges of alignment to extremist Islamist ideology, Tanriverdi came up with the idea of the outfit to fulfil Erdogan’s Caliphate aspirations. The Turkish proxies Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh are said to be directly deployed by the same ‘Consultancy’. He himself oversaw the deployment of some 5,000 to 7,000 mercenaries in Libya during his long stay in the country after 2013.
Similarly, a report published by the US government in September 2020 highlighted that through SADAT, Tanriverdi had deployed around 5,000 mercenaries from Syria in Libya. In 2018, former Interior Minister of Turkey, Meral Aksener said that Sadat had been operating several terrorist training camps for pro-Erdogan terrorists near Turkey’s Black Sea coast and their primary task is to curb the opponents of Erdogan and his AKP party.
A number of exposes and media reports from the MENA regions have highlighted the rapid deployment of mercenaries across the world by Adnan Tanriverdi on directions of Erdogan. Tanriverdi, arguably is also the in-charge of sending Syrian mercenaries to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Quoting credible references, prominent news outlet of the Gulf region, Al-Arabiya, highlighted, “Turkey’s top military advisor has suggested that the government should establish a private military company to train mercenaries, according to the Independent’s Turkey edition. His remarks came days after Turkey signed a military pact with Libya.
The proposal adds to concerns about Turkey’s intentions in Libya, where Ankara has proposed sending troops to fight alongside the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and a plethora of militias including extremist groups associated with Al Qaeda.”
On September 2020, a report published in The Telegraph termed Tanriverdi as “world’s most powerful gun-for-hire” and “an expert of all the dark arts of warfare”. “In the eyes of some, he is the Islamic world’s most powerful gun-for-hire, a well-connected ex-general with thousands of battle-hardened Syrian mercenaries at his command. A close confidant of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Adnan Tanriverdi claims expertise in all the dark arts of warfare, from sabotage and counter-insurgency to assassinations,” it added.
During the meeting of the Chief of Pakistani Air Force and Adnan Tanriverdi, the issues of Kashmir and Afghanistan were also comprehensively discussed. Urging Tanriverdi for help, General Mujahid Anwar commented — “What India is doing in the Kashmir region is certainly tougher than he Nazi-era repressions, and the people of the region are quite victims in an economic and political sense as a result of these attitudes away from justice.” He also unequivocally extended his support to Turkey on Cyprus and all other conflicts of the Ottoman country.
General Mujahid Anwar also met Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, Turkish Army Chief General Yasar Guler, Chief of Turkish Air Force General Hasan Kucukakyuz, and head of Presidency of Turkish Defence Industries Dr Ismail Demir, besides several other military commanders.
Besides SADAT, both discussed to intensify and expand the functioning of ASSAM as well — a platform to bring together 61 Muslim nations in a single entity termed ASRICA (Asia-Africa) and bring them under the command of Turkey, led by ‘Caliph’ Erdogan. It is believed that under the garb of operating the organisation, Erdogan carries out covert operations in foreign countries.
During the meeting, Tanriverdi discussed the success of strategies with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on speeding up the operations of ASSAM in Pakistan. During the meeting, Tanriverdi commented that “leaders of both countries share the same views”. Similarly, General Mujahid Anwar stated, “Pakistan and Turkey are two countries, one nation. We not only share common culture and faith but also similar interests and challenges.”
Observers believe that the Turkey-Pakistan collaboration on proxy warfare and deployment of mercenaries is not a new phenomenon and the recent round of meetings was an attempt to strengthen the collaboration and accelerate the ‘ongoing activities related to these. As during the limited war between Azeri and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, several reports proved that Pakistani mercenaries were fighting alongside the Syrian mercenaries in Karabakh region. Pakistani flags were spotted at multiple instances during the war and locals of the region came across fighters speaking in Punjabi and Pashto.
The role of Tanriverdi and SADAT go well beyond the Turkish borders. There are several recorded pieces of evidence that show how SADAT is finding Gulenists across the world and attacking them. The outfit is either carrying out the attacks or assigning targets to the local or regional terrorist groups to attack them. Regarding attacks on Gulenists across Africa, the American Enterprise Institute has commented — “Turkish Islamist paramilitary group founded by Erdogan adviser Adnan Tanriverdi, which has provided financial and military support to Hamas, also provided training so that, in the future, Turkey will have a cadre of Islamist paramilitary soldiers on whom it can call as it supports various movements on the African continent.”
Even in Turkey, the SADAT is leading the attacks on Gulenists and dissidents. In this regard, Washington Examiner has put — “Witnesses say SADAT snipers were also responsible for shooting civilians on the night of the failed coup, an outrage which Erdogan subsequently blamed on a network loyal to ally-turned-rival Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based theologian. SADAT is quickly becoming Turkey’s equivalent of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, acting in conjunction with Turkey’s military, if not acting as its elite wing.”
The close collaboration of these countries in the areas of proxy warfare is a concerning development for Islamic nations as well as the South Asian region. It is imperative that the US and all other NATO countries ensure that the Afghan peace process is not sabotaged by the Turkey-Pakistan combine and SAARC nations shall come together to ensure that Erdogan refrains from creating further disturbance in the region in his sinister attempts to radicalise South Asian Muslims.