Libya is witnessing a proxy war in which international powers are fighting for power and influence, but also over energy sources in the richest country in North Africa. Emirati financing, security companies, suspicious clients and geostrategic stakes in which Erdogan plays a major role.
The Libyan amazement – the scene of Haftar’s collapse in Tripoli
” Erdogan is about to destroy the great power of the West “
- Berlin silence and European division
- Drones – Erdogan’s strike force!
- Erdogan intervention – coincidence or premeditation?
- The conflict between Turkey and the Emirates, does Egypt get involved?
The Libyan amazement – the scene of Haftar’s collapse in Tripoli
Exciting scene: A long convoy of “pickups” penetrates the streets of Bani Al-Walid (150 km southeast of Tripoli). Pictures of the scene spread lightning fast in the Libyan social networks. Men with European features and military clothes, piled in the back of cars, in front of passers-by, marveling at the strange scenery, especially as the convoy was in the process of leaving the city. They are hundreds of Russian mercenaries of the Wagner paramilitary company, which Western sources consider an arm of the Russian intelligence services. Mercenaries headed to the oasis of Bani Walid as a Russian Ilyushin transport plane was waiting for them, and from there they moved to Al-Jafra Air Force Base, 350 kilometers in the east, which is controlled by dissident general Khalifa Haftar, before a possible return to Russia.
That scene alone represents a strategic shift and a catastrophic failure of the attack, launched by Haftar against Tripoli, and another way from Moscow’s involvement in the Libyan crisis, in the context of an attack that began on April 4, 2019 against the internationally recognized government of National Accord headed by Fayez Siraj.
The American Military Command in Africa (AFRICOM) went in a statement further, confirming that Moscow had deployed military fighters in Libya to support Russian mercenaries. The fighters would “likely provide close air support and offensive support to the Wagner paramilitary group,” the statement said, but Moscow denied the US accusations, calling them “fabrication and misinformation.”
In a expanded report, Mirko Kailbert, the correspondent of the German newspaper “Tagstsaitung” in Tunis (Tuesday, 26 May 2020), confirmed that “eyewitnesses assured the newspaper that Russian military planes had already covered the evacuation … as Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj ordered not to shoot On the planes, so that General Haftar’s attack on western Libya has formally failed. ”
As for Fathi Pashaga, Minister of Interior in the Al-Wefaq government, he told the German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (May 25, 2020) that “the presence of foreign mercenaries is the only reason that Khalifa Hifter has not yet received a final defeat.”
Erdogan on the verge of destroying the great power of the West
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made for himself enemies at the regional and international levels, whose numbers far outpace supporters of General Khalifa Haftar’s militia. Enemies are ready, publicly and in the shadows, to limit Erdogan’s regional ambitions. There is a confidential 80-page UN report that unveils the hostility of the Turkish presence in Libya regionally and internationally. In June 2019, at least twenty people boarded a Turboprop cargo plane in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The passengers of the plane come from several countries (Australia, France, Malta, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Their destination was Libya on a “scientific mission” supervised by Jordan with the goal of “geophysical research”.
But the UN report revealed that the operation was merely a “denial” by paramilitaries whose mission was in fact completely “non-peaceful”. The goal was to reach Benghazi, the stronghold of the defected general backed by strong allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Russia, France, Egypt and Jordan. The Al-Wefaq government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, which is internationally recognized, supports Italy, Qatar, and Turkey.
The mission of “geophysicists” was to stop Turkish supply ships heading to the capital, Tripoli. The report revealed the smuggling of six helicopters from South Africa to Libya and two military boats from Malta. He also mentioned that the paramilitary companies involved are based in the United Arab Emirates. However, the alleged secret mission was apparently aborted prior to its actual launch. For unknown reasons yet.
That UN report is an indication of the frantic shadow war waged by international and regional powers to extend their influence over Libya, either for ideological or economic reasons. I opened the title “Erdogan – the Secret Ruler of Libya.” SPIEGEL ONLINE described (May 22, 2020) how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan simplified His influence in Libya. An influence that Western capitals do not view with reassurance. The German business Insider website once wrote about the controversy over whether or not Turkey remained in NATO and said, “Erdogan is about to destroy the great power of the West – and no one is able to stop it.” In a hint that Turkey is no longer a reliable ally in the West, And that its withdrawal from NATO would create a geostrategic void in NATO. But a coalition of agents from several Western countries aiming to hit Turkish supply ships heading to Libya, shows the widening gap that separates Ankara from its western allies. And Erdogan’s interference in Libya has in fact exacerbated Turkey’s growing regional isolation and raised walls of mistrust between it and its Western allies.
Berlin silence and European division
The Turkish expansion in the eastern Mediterranean has created growing concern among a number of countries in the region, as well as in Western capitals. In this regard, “Paul Anton Kruger” wrote an extensive analysis in the newspaper “Zudwitsche Zeitung” (May 26, 2020), in which he explained that Turkey “is subject to justified criticism, after it expanded the scope of its military intervention in Libya and put the forces of the defected general Khalifa Haftar for the first time in a position Defense, since he began his attack on Tripoli. ” “This is a big problem for the European Union and NATO: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in exchange for his support for the militias of the internationally recognized government, received a reward in the form of an agreement to demarcate maritime borders and economic areas in the eastern Mediterranean, which is inconsistent with The interests of several countries such as Greece and Cyprus, but also the interests of Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. “
Kruger, a correspondent for the newspaper specializing in Middle East affairs, believes that Turkey’s role in Libya dates back to the days after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an attempt to link the present and the Ottoman past. However, Western observers believe that Erdogan’s military intervention in Libya came in the first place, in response to the military support from the UAE and Egypt to General Haftar. In addition to Russia’s attempts, through Wagner’s mercenaries, to push a hole to impose its control on all of Libya. This is what Turkey saw in turn as a threat to its national security. However, the consecutive defeats of Haftar, 76, probably made his supporters understand that he was no longer the future man in Libya. Some are calling for pressure on Turkey, but how can this be done? France and Russia are involved in supporting Haftar. As is customary in foreign policy, Europeans find themselves powerless to formulate a united position on the Libyan crisis, while the US position remains hesitant.
Kruger made it clear that no one raised his voice in Berlin to criticize the Emirati, Egyptian and Russian role in Libya. It is reported that Germany sponsored an international conference to solve the Libyan crisis , whose decisions remained a dead letter. Germany has condemned on more than one occasion, Foreign Minister Haikou Maas, attacks against civilians, with calls for a ceasefire, criticizing the Libyan opposition’s delusion of the ability to resolve the conflict militarily.
Drones – Erdogan’s strike force!
The development of military aircraft manufacturing projects aimed at achieving a kind of independence in Turkish military industrialization, and thus reducing dependency on the American ally. Although it is a member of NATO, Turkey was involved ten years ago in manufacturing unmanned warplanes, which it is using extensively in Syria. The aircraft has shown (Bayraktar TB , 0.2) 2. Bayraktar TB2 on the effectiveness of combat have changed the balance of power in the Libyan civil war. The Turkish military has about 100 drones of this type, capable of flying at a height of more than 7,000 meters for 24 hours, with a payload of more than 50 kilograms.
The Turkish army is using these aircraft extensively against the PKK and in the bombing of Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria. Turkish aircraft caused serious human and material losses, including shooting down Syrian aircraft and destroying at least one hundred tanks. Remotely piloted aircraft enable Turkey to move in Syrian airspace without fear of losing soldiers. Ankara has sold about 40 such aircraft to Qatar, Ukraine and the Libyan National Unity Government. Turkey aspires to be among the top ten arms exporters in the world by 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
Erdogan intervention – coincidence or premeditation?
Ankara has intensified its military support for the Libyan reconciliation government since the beginning of this year. Erdogan was self-confident when he prophesied on May 5 and said, “The countries that supply Haftar with money and weapons will not succeed in saving him (…) We will soon receive good news from Libya.”
From a historical point of view, the Eastern Mediterranean is a vital area of Turkish security policy. This is evident in the regional competition for gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus and Libya. The Corona pandemic did not prevent Ankara from continuing its efforts to extend its influence in Libya with the support of the Libyan reconciliation government. Thanks to Turkish support, the Al-Wefaq government forces have recovered the Al-Watiyah base (140 km west of Tripoli), which is of prime strategic importance in the Libyan West. The base has fifty hangars and several barracks, in addition to runways for landing planes in the desert. With Haftar losing this base, Turkey succeeded in inflicting a major blow on the French-Emirati-Egyptian axis in Libya. Al-Wefaq forces were able to paralyze the back lines of Haftar’s forces and consequently cut logistical support towards Tripoli.
There are those who see that Erdogan’s interference in Libya is not a coincidence, but rather that it is part of the “Mafi Fatan” doctrine (the blue homeland) that he laid to extend his country’s control over the eastern Mediterranean, which Ankara considers part of its national security. Since 2019, when Turkey held its largest naval exercise in its history, called “Mafi Vatan”, this security doctrine has also become known to western circles. A doctrine consistent with the ideological orientation of Turkish foreign policy during Erdogan’s era, which seeks to lead the Sunni Muslim world by supporting political Islam in neighboring countries.
Mirko Kailbert of the newspaper “Tagstaiteung” explained that defeating Haftar in western Libya does not mean the end of the armed conflict. “The war is not over, as long as Haftar controls the so-called Libyan Oil Crescent near Benghazi, which equals more than 70 percent of Libyan oil reserves.”
The conflict between Turkey and the Emirates, does Egypt get involved?
The Cologne-based newspaper “Kolnische Rundschau” (May 25, 2020) wrote about the future of Haftar and external ambitions in Libya and said, “Haftar has failed so far to find a recipe against Turkish military support (for the government of reconciliation). Foreign powers from Europe and the Middle East are interested in the country’s reserves Oil-rich and seeking to impose its political dominance there. ” The newspaper added that it is “a proxy war fought by two regional rivals: Turkey and the UAE, a struggle for power and influence. Turkey is one of the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which plays an important role in the Libyan unity government, an organization that the UAE and Egypt consider a terrorist organization.”
Hifter’s supporters abroad fear that Al-Wefaq forces will advance in southeastern Libya, especially to the cities of Tarhuna and Al-Jafra, which will end their ambition to place the reins of Libya in the hands of a retired general.
Observers are wondering whether President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is receiving calls from his allies in Paris and Abu Dhabi to engage directly in the conflict, but any such intervention will lead to a direct confrontation with Turkey, a matter that may not be supported by Egyptian army generals already stuck in the Sinai swamp. . Whatever the future scenarios, it is clear that Haftar is no longer the man able to unify Libya in the future.
Written by Hassan Zendand