Erdogan Backed Eritrean Muslims Group Set up Office in Istanbul



The Eritrean Ulama’a League (Rabita-i Ulama Eritriye), a Muslim organization that is seen as close to the Muslim Brotherhood, opened an office in Istanbul on Jan. 5, 2019.

The inauguration was attended by Yasin Aktay, chief advisor to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as keynote speaker.

The Eritrean Ulama’a League is supported by the Erdogan government, which has been pursuing a global campaign to woo various Muslim groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami.

Among the guests were Abdul-Hamid al-Ani, director of information at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI).

In February 2017 Sheikh Burhan Said, president of the Eritrean Ulama’a League, came to Istanbul and visited the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), a charity group that has been identified as an arms smuggler to jihadist groups in Libya and Syria and was previously reported by Russia to the United Nations Security Council for links to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The IHH, backed by the Turkish government, works closely with Turkish intelligence agency the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

In a televised interview last year, Erdogan aide Aktay advocated a caliphate vision for Turkey, calling the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami Turkey’s soft power proxies.

Aktay was deputy chairman of the ruling AKP responsible for managing the AKP’s foreign relations and served as party spokesperson. He is known to be an influential figure in shaping Erdogan government policies in the Arab and Muslim worlds.