Loud voices have been calling for a greater German role in the Libyan crisis, as they are not satisfied with the Berlin Summit held at the beginning of the year, which called for a political solution to the Libyan crisis, the rejection of armed conflicts, and the lack of inclination towards one group over another, especially Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar or Government of National Accord (GNA) leader Fayez al-Sarraj, even if it leads to the participation of German forces within the peacekeeping forces in Libya. They have also called for the establishment of demilitarized zones in the country.
The proposal was made by former German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, a foreign policy expert in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in order to establish a stronger and larger German presence in Libya, confront Turkish ambitions, and stop any potential threats to Europe. This came in light of the presence of a number of Turkish and foreign mercenaries in Libyan cities, which constitutes a direct threat to European Union countries.
This proposal is in line with the desire of German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who wants her country to engage in peacekeeping operations and international missions, which clashes with the vision of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who sees the need to reduce Germany’s presence abroad and not to engage in international or regional issues militarily, instead being satisfied with the diplomatic role.
Observers believe that this proposal will favor Kramp-Karrenbauer, who recently announced she would not run for chancellor to succeed Merkel against the backdrop of internal political crises as a result of her party’s cooperation with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the extreme right representative in Bundestag in some German states, which some considered a disgraceful position for the CDU. Kramp-Karrenbauer was therefore forced to abandon this step to alleviate the criticism being leveled against her.
It seems that Kramp-Karrenbauer found herself in a situation that she did not expect, as her nomination for the position of Minister of Defense came in July 2019 against the backdrop of the nomination of Ursula van der Leyen to head the European Commission. She was not interested in any government position, sufficing to prepare for the CDU General Conference by the end of 2021 to run to succeed Merkel as chancellor, until the French-German step came to settle on Von der Leyen’s candidacy, at which point Merkel tapped Kramp-Karrenbauer to be Defense Minister.
Some voices within the CDU have been supportive of Kramp-Karrenbauer’s call to participate with UN peacekeeping forces in Libya, like many of the tasks undertaken by German forces in Africa and Asia. But the specificity and complexities of the Libyan crisis may accelerate addressing the United Nations to establish demilitarized zones until the crisis is resolved politically, as well as holding parliamentary and presidential elections in the near future.
The Christian Social Union (CSU) may not support this step, so it may be rejected in the Bundestag if the idea is presented and voted on, meaning the Green Party will be the main engine in the matter. If approved, it will support Kramp-Karrenbauer’s position, while it will be the end of the Kramp-Karrenbauer’s project to expand abroad if rejected.
Analysts believe that the peculiarity of the Libyan crisis is due to the fact that it is one of the countries from which illegal immigrants come to Europe, which represents a severe problem for Europe and increases the challenges facing the continent.
The other problem is the lack of a unified European position regarding the Libyan crisis in the event of an agreement to send peacekeeping forces or establish demilitarized zones with any particular party in the conflict, especially since Italy favors Sarraj’s GNA, while France stands with the LNA and rejects the GNA’s agreements with Turkey.
These differences were of interest to MP Omid Nouripour, an expert on foreign policy affairs in the Green Party’s parliamentary bloc, who made it clear to Voice of Germany that it is important for Berlin to have a greater role in Libya, but if the Europeans do not agree on who they support in Libya, then the same questions arise: With whom will European soldiers stand in Libya? Will they stand against each other?
Although the EU foreign ministers are expected to meet Monday, the Libyan file does not have consensus and differences still persist between European countries. Turkey benefits from this, as it works to keep Europe preoccupied with domestic issues, while Ankara strengthens its military, political, and economic presence in Libya, which was demonstrated with the deposit of $8 billion in the treasury of the Turkish Central Bank to revive the Turkish economy, which was at its worst in recent years. But thanks to Turkey’s ambitions in Libya and its protection of Qatar’s emir, Ankara was able to obtain billions more to contribute to reviving Erdogan’s treasury. However, in practice, this did not have positive results on the Turkish economy or improving the standard of living, while the weakened Turkish lira has still not been revived.
The coming days will be an opportunity to know the European position on Libya and whether there will be a unified position regarding the crisis and preventing Turkey from exploiting regional crises in its favor, or to take a firm stance to prevent Ankara from continuing to threaten European countries directly by violating Greek and Cypriot maritime borders, sending mercenaries to Libya, and opening borders to refugees and migrants, which will constitute a major threat to Europe in the coming years.