Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially joined Libyan civil war in January this year, taking advantage of the country’s vulnerability just as he did incase of Syria. Turkey deployed its military forces and Syrian militias in Libya to support UN-recognised GNA, despite theUN-imposed arms embargo. The intervention of foreign actors in Libya accelerated the conflict between the warring factions of warlord General Khalifa Haftar and UN-recognised Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Over the weekend, Erdogan held a meeting with Libya’s High Council of State (HCS) Khaled Al-Mishri, at the Palace of Wahid Al-Din, in Istanbul. As per the reports, besides discussing the latest regional developments, the two expressed interest in increasing cooperation in all fields. Turkish leader also put across his willingness to offer all of his expertise to assist the Libyan state in economic construction and setting up state institutions to achieve stability inthe war-torn nation.
It is so ironic for Erdogan to talk about bringing economic and political stability in another state when he couldn’t do so in his own country, whose economy has been dwindling and democratic political system eroding over the past decade under his leadership. Political analysts viewed Erdogan’s steeping in Libyan affair no less than an annexation carried out to establish his stronghold over African nationin order to preserve Turkey’s political and economic dominance in the region.
“Turkey’s main motivation has been to prevent Libya from falling under the sway of Egypt and (the) UAE, which would have been a blow to Ankara’s geostrategic and economic interests not only in Libya itself but also in the East Mediterranean,” Nigar Goksel, Turkey director at the International Crisis Group, told VOA.
According to the US Geological Survey, the eastern Mediterranean is one of the richest energy resource in the world with the region holding approximately $700 billion worth natural gas. Out of that reserve, Turkey – despite objections from European nations – has been drilling for natural gas off the northern coast of the divided island of Cyprus. With Libya, being reduced to a mere colony of Erdogan, it would allow Turkey in accessing and drilling much more, help it in become one of the major energy exporter in the region.
At what cost is Erdogan undertaking his Libyan expansion? As per the recent UN report, there has been drastic surge in war crimes and humanitarian crimes in Libya especially in and near Tripoli, the region central to the conflict. The UN humanitarian officials expressed their shock over the discovery of mass graves in the region and also mentioned that recent acceleration of conflict between Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) forced nearly 24,000 people to flee their homes in the last week,
Despite intense diplomatic intervention to implement ceasefire in the country, Erdogan seemed to doing otherwise by increasing his grip over western Libya with heavy militarisation and conducting navy and air force military drills in the Mediterranean Sea, off Libya. Turkish forces carried out these drill on Thursday, and when questioned about this activity, Ankara that the drill was meant to examine and develop the country’s ability to undertake long-distance operations.
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