Ahmed Sami Abdel Fattah
Tensions have increased in Libya since the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a maritime boundary delimitation deal and another one on security cooperation with Turkey in November 2019.
The deals helped the militias backing the GNA control a number of military sites in the southern part of Tripoli, including al-Watiya airbase.
Turkey followed the “Zero Problems” policy with neighboring states under former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. This policy gave priority to economic interests over military and political conflicts. This policy helped Turkey attract foreign investments that contributed to raising the economic growth in it.
However, the Turkish political system was changed into a presidential one following the 2017 referendum. This change gave Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unlimited powers, including giving him the right to intervene militarily outside his country.
Turkey especially tries to gain a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean region, given the region’s unfolding vast mineral wealth and Turkey’s dependence on oil imports to energize its economic activities. It just wants to benefit from the unfolding natural gas wealth in the region.
The GNA is giving Turkey a good chance to gain this foothold, given the Tripoli-based government’s military fragilities and its need for Turkish support in the face of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
Turkey offered the GNA military support in the light of the security cooperation deal of November 2019. This support, which has included so far the sending of huge arms shipments to Libya and thousands of mercenaries from Syria and Turkey, helped the GNA militias counter the LNA.
Russia took a neutral stance towards developments in Libya since 2011. It did not veto Security Council resolution no 1973 which gave NATO the right to intervene in Libya.
NATO played a major role in the downfall of the regime of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia also did not want to provoke the ire of the Europeans who would have been concerned about Russian presence in the Southern Mediterranean.
However, Russian interference in Syria turned it into a major player in the region. Moscow is now apparently trying to repeat the same scenario in Libya.
Russia wants to use Libya as a gateway into Africa, especially African countries of the Sahara.