You are being deluded, if the recent political and military developments in Libya made you think that Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood fellows at the Government of National Accord (GNA) are winning the civil war against the Libyan National Army (LNA). Look again; Erdogan is in real trouble in Libya and he does not know how to get out of the hole he dug for himself, without further hurting the economic interests and foreign affairs of Turkey.
Last year, Erdogan solely decided to move his proxy war from Syria to Libya. He flew more than 15000 of his mercenaries from Syria to Libya via Turkish airlines, and then deployed 1600 Turkish military officers from Syria to Libya, under the claim of protecting and supporting the Islamic political agenda of his brothers at the GNA. But, that is not the real reason for Erdogan’s involvement in Libya.
The ongoing civil war, disagreements between tribes, and the safe presence of terrorist organizations in Libya emboldened Erdogan, the Turkish president with the chief-thief mentality, to take advantage of the situation to satisfy Turkey’s constant hunger for Mediterranean gas and energy resources. Turkey is the biggest energy consumer in the Mediterranean basin, with annual energy bill that exceeds US$41 billion.
The Turkish strategy “Mavi Vatan” or “Blue Homeland,” launched 14 years ago, encompasses an ambitious plan for Turkey to win a geopolitical supremacy over the eastern Mediterranean, and, thus, partaking oil and gas drilling rights with east Mediterranean countries; including Egypt, Greece, and Israel.
In December 2019, Turkey and the GNA signed a first-of-kind “Maritime Boundary Treaty” to establish an exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean that allows both Turkey and Libya to claim rights to ocean bed resources. In addition, the so-called treaty allows Turkey to control vessel movement and the gas pipes in the area. The legitimacy of the agreement has been disputed by affected countries in the eastern basin. The European Union, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations took the side of eastern Mediterranean countries against Erdogan and GNA’s treaty. South European countries and Russia are indirect stakeholders of interest in the oil and gas production at this region.
However, the illegal game Erdogan has been playing in Libya is now firing back at him. The international community, which tolerated Erdogan’s war crimes in Syria over the past six years, cannot turn a blind eye to his harassment to east Mediterranean countries. Turkey’s support to the political Islamist agenda of the GNA and implanting mercenaries in Libya poses a serious national security threat, not only to North African countries like Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, but also to Israel, France, Italy, and Greece. The terrorists Erdogan claims he has been blocking from reaching Europe are now in Libya, much closer to south Europe.
The Turkish assault on Syria has been, shamefully, tolerated by super powers, like the United States and Russia, because Trump and Putin, respectively, used Erdogan as their flying monkey in the Middle East. That is not only because Turkey is sharing borders with northeastern Syria where all the mess is happening, but also because Erdogan and his party built strong economic and political relations, though illegitimate, with the Islamic State terrorists (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
Nonetheless, the Turkish assault on Libya is a different story. On June 6th, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, LNA Commander General Khalifa Hifter, and Speaker of Libyan parliament Aqila Saleh, released the Cairo Declaration, as an initiative to end the civil war and find a political solution to reconstruct the collapsing national state in Libya. The surprising international support to the Cairo Declaration proves that Libya cannot be the new Syria for Erdogan. Erdogan’s military and mercenary support to GNA is already posing a threat to the economic interests and national security of North African countries, South European countries, as well as Russia and the United States.
In Libya, Erdogan is fighting the international community, not the LNA. He is now fighting alone against the whole world for a territory that he has no right to claim, with foreign mercenaries and a depleting Turkish economy. In all this, Erdogan fails to understand that he is the real obstacle in the way for Turkey’s prosperity and his removal from power is the actual solution for all Turkey’s economic, political, and international troubles. Just try to imagine: how the Middle East would have had a chance to breathe and recover, if Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood had never existed.