During the five years since Fayez al-Sarraj assumed the chairmanship of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) Presidency Council, he has received support from the Turkish regime, which has strongly contributed to the spread of terrorist militias, general chaos and corruption throughout Libya.
Turkey’s annoyance at Sarraj’s resignation
On September 16, Sarraj announced his intention to resign from his post in October and to hand over all his duties to a new executive authority, whose formation is being negotiated between the two parties to the conflict in Libya.
As expected, Turkey was the first to be upset about the departure of its man in Libya. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced one day after Sarraj declared his resignation that Ankara is upset by this decision.
In this context, questions have arisen about the reasons that prompted Sarraj to submit his resignation, whether or not Turkey was aware of decision beforehand, and to what extent the decision will affect the Turkish presence and Erdogan’s project in Libya.
Reasons for the resignation
There are several reasons that prompted the head of the GNA to submit his resignation, the first of which was the mass rejection of him. Before announcing his resignation, Libyans had gone out weeks ago in massive demonstrations in Tripoli and a number of other cities controlled by Sarraj. During their protests, the demonstrators demanded Sarraj’s departure due to the poor performance of his government, which led to deteriorating living conditions and high prices, in addition to the spread of corruption.
Also among the reasons that could be behind Sarraj’s resignation is the public differences that have clearly emerged recently between Sarraj and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, who is of Turkish origin, against the background of dealing with demonstrations, as Sarraj prevented Bashagha from carrying out his duties and removed him from his post. But after threats from the militia affiliated with Bashagha in Tripoli, Sarraj brought him back on board again as the head of the Ministry of Interior.
This comes at a time when some political analysts announced that Sarraj’s resignation came after realizing that the dire situation in Libya had reached an explosive stage, and he alone bears the greatest burden in that, in addition to the changes in the positions and goals of his allies in Libya. However, others saw that his resignation came under pressure due to domestic and international consensus on accelerating the process of forming a new authority.
Regarding whether Turkey had knowledge of Sarraj’s resignation, Hisham al-Najjar, a researcher specializing in Islamist movements, told the Reference that Ankara had nothing to do with Sarraj’s resignation and was not aware of it beforehand, as the decision is against its interests. The resignation took place under Arab and international pressure against Ankara’s desires, with the aim of pushing the political settlement process forward and installing an alternative leadership able to deal and contribute to the post-political settlement reality and form a national unity government that brings together all Libyan sects, as stated in the Cairo Declaration.
Muddling the Erdogan project
Najjar added that this development represents a major disruption to a vital part of Erdogan’s expansion project in the region, especially since the Turkish president was betting on being able to plunder Libya’s wealth to support his own country’s declining economy, as well as to use the country to start expanding to other arenas in order to impose his influence in North Africa and the rest of the continent. By losing Sarraj, Erdogan’s plans in Libya become vulnerable to dismantling. The Turkish president seeks to control strategic Libyan ports, establish a number of military bases in the country, and impose Turkey as a fait accompli in Libya’s future scene by moving the Brotherhood on the ground.
Brotherhood’s domination declines
Najjar pointed out that Sarraj’s resignation serves as a prelude to Turkey’s retreat and the decline of the Brotherhood’s dominance in decision-making in western Libya. It is also a step to get rid of the face of a burned card that has become unacceptable and to find an alternative within the Turkish-Qatari axis to replace him. In the end, the decision to resign comes to surrender to the will of Egypt and to give priority to Libya’s national interests, which will lead to dissolving foreign loyalties, unifying the army, and preventing the spread of arms and mercenaries, all of which are steps that will reduce the influence of the Brotherhood in the future and limit the presence of Turkey and Qatar in Libya.