“SADAT”, Erdogan’s private mercenary army

by Andrea Tucci,

Every great power deserving of such a title has parallel armies at its disposal, answering solely to the command of the deep state and activatable in times of need. These needs could be the quelling of a serious insurrection or the neutralization of a developing coup.

These shadow armies can be private contingents, like the Wagner Group or Academi (formerly BlackWater), or guerrilla and/or terrorist organizations that, under the guise of money (as in the first case) or ideological battle (as in the second), fight and are loyal to only one flag. These alternative armies can sometimes resemble veritable parallel states.

In the case of Turkey the armies defending the foundations and walls of Erdogan’s order are diverse, united by one element: fearfulness. These armies include the Grey Wolves of Devlet Bahceli’s Nationalist Action Party, drug traffickers based between Latin America and Central Asia, organized crime bosses like Alaattin Cakici, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), a galaxy of acronyms and movements belonging to political Islam and jihadism – from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Free Syrian Army, and Sadat, a private military company playing a key role in Ankara’s expansion in Africa.

SADAT, an acronym for Uluslararası Savunma Danışmanlık İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret, is a Turkish private agency operating in military consultancy and training sectors. Founded in February 2012 by former General Adnan Tanriverdi. Sadat is headquartered in Istanbul and is the largest organization of its kind in Turkey.

Unique in the services it provides, SADAT was established to promote the unity of Islamic people through the circulation of military knowledge. It is not surprising it has become Erdogan’s long arm since its inception.

This long arm has supported him significantly both domestically and internationally, particularly in consolidating bilateral relations with countries central to Erdogan’s foreign agenda for neo-Ottomanism, pan-Turkism, and pan-Islamism.

The “consultancy and study center” began operating in Africa in 2013, just a year after its foundation by Tanriverdi, gradually building a reputation as a provider of vital services in the era of limitless wars. These services include the training of security forces to face hybrid threats, introduction to unconventional combat, and intelligence gathering.

Entering the African continent was relatively easy. Turkey, which is linked to over 35 African nations through bilateral cooperation agreements, always finds a way to carve out space for SADAT when concluding a military consultancy deal. This preferential treatment has allowed Tanriverdi’s company to extend its tentacles from Anatolia to every corner of Africa, especially in key theaters like Libya, where it trained soldiers and formulated the military strategy of Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj  ( Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya), Sudan, Uganda, Chad, and Ivory Coast.

Outside Africa, SADAT’s presence has been reported in Syria, where it would provide direct (fighters) and indirect (training and consultancy) support to the Free Syrian Army, and in the Palestinian Territories, where it would arm and advise Hamas, and even in Germany, where it would assist the National Intelligence Organization in conducting covert operations and espionage.

Since its inception, as evidenced by its involvement in Libya, SADAT has played a leading role in managing the military aspect of Turkey’s foreign agenda. The proximity to the Turkish president has earned SADAT the nickname of “Erdogan’s shadow army.”

This entity, more than a hybrid think tank, resembles a counter-institution created specifically to safeguard the Erdogan order from the Kemalist threat (Kemalism is the name given to the Turkish National Movement, led by General Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which in 1923 led to the founding of the modern Republic of Turkey).

Its nature and purpose were demonstrated on the evening of July 15, 2016, when SADAT soldiers, sealing key locations such as bridges and strategic roads and physically fighting the coup plotters, played a decisive role in preventing Erdogan’s overthrow.

A dream of the Islamic world led (again) by the Sultans of Turkey, which SADAT had dubbed the “army of Islam” a few years ago, endowed with a meticulously refined structure, convinced Erdogan to sponsor it internationally, among the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as a valid alternative to the debated “Arab NATO.”

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