By Janet Ellen
İSTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made it very clear that Turkey is supporting Libya ‘s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) that is internationally recognized as the legitimate government.
Akar also explained that Turkey supports the GNA because it’s backed by the United Nations. The defense minister said the Turkish role in Libya is training soldiers as well as taking an advisory role. He said: “This security memorandum is related to military training and cooperation, we have such agreements with 77 countries in this context.”
The defense minister also reiterated Turkey didn’t attempt to take on any role in Libya until after the GNA’S letter of request and only after Turkey ratified a bill on deployment of troops on January 2.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “It is clear who wants peace or war, who wants or doesn’t want unity in Libya.”
Libya has been the source of conflict since renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar began his military offensive to capture Tripoli nine months ago. Though Haftar has so far been unsuccessful in taking Tripoli – his military backers Egypt, UAE, Russia’s Wagner Group, Jordan and France are fomenting the conflict by supplying Haftar’s forces with advanced Chinese drone technology and numerous weaponry.
The larger issue lies in the fact that Haftar as some Middle East analysts have claimed, is acting as a proxy. Haftar also controls the oil fields in eastern Libya and his backers are vehemently opposed to Turkey assisting the GNA with its military needs.
Egypt has been a particular thorn in Turkey’s side since its government began protesting Turkey’s dual agreement with Libya and has also opposed Turkish President Erdogan’s vow to defend Libya at all costs.
In the latest development, Egyptian police raided Turkey’s Anadolu Agency office in Cairo in a surprise move on Tuesday evening. Egyptian officials haven’t responded to most organizations but two agency employees were released from the four that were detained, according to news reports.
What’s rather telling is that it appears to some experts that the raid on Anadolu Agency is payback for Turkish support of Libya and Erdogan’s condemnation of Haftar. Ironically, the very countries crying ‘foreign interference’ and denouncing Turkey’s agreement with Libya, are the same countries supplying weapons and technology to Haftar.
Hypocrisy is fair game in this crunch time for Libya that leaves the GNA very little wiggle room for error in a chess game that is likely to turn deadly at some point without serious intervention.
In the meantime, both Russia and Turkey attempted to broker a lasting ceasefire on January 11 that went awry when Haftar who had initially agreed to it left Moscow without signing the ceasefire agreement.
On January 16, press reports said that Haftar planned to honor the ceasefire but new reports said on Thursday that forces loyal to Haftar violated the ceasefire. GNA Military spokesman Muhammed Kununu said Haftar militias targeted al-Brega oil complex in southern Tripoli.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is offering a much needed olive branch this weekend when she hosts a number of top officials from over 11 countries at the Berlin Peace Process on Sunday, January 19 in an effort to find a political solution for Libya.
Erring on the side of the devil’s advocate, it appears that unless Haftar and those nations he reports to, finally decide that war isn’t worth it- nothing more may come of the Berlin Peace Process than a bunch of international leaders greeting one another and spouting platitudes rather than seeing actionable results.