Libya’da Seçimlere kadar Yönetecek Geçici Konsey Seçildi

Libya’da taraflar arasında anlaşma sağlandı ve seçimlere kadar yönetecek geçici konsey belirlendi.
Birleşmiş Milletlerin girişimi ile İsviçre’de toplanan Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu (LSDF) üyeleri
yaptıkları seçimle Başkanlık Konseyi Başkanlığına Muhammed Menfi’yi ve Başbakanlığa da
Abdulhamid Dibeybe’yi getirmiştir.
Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu, 11 Haziran 2015 tarihinde 22 katılımcı ile BM öncülüğünde Fas’ta
toplanarak hazırlık döneminde yol haritası belirlemek için oluşturuldu. Bunlar özetle;
– İlk aşamada, Milli Mutabakat Hükümeti ile Tobruk’ta bulunan Temsilciler Meclisi arasında
diyalogu başlatmak ve İki kutuplu çatışmayı önlemek,
– Sonrasında Merkezi hükümetin kurulması ve anayasanın hazırlanması için yol haritası
belirlenmesi,
– Geçiş dönemini takip eden 60 gündeyse Merkez Bankası, Denetleme Kurulu, Yolsuzlıkla
Mücadele Kurumu, Yüksek Seçim Kurulu, Anayasa Mahkemesi gibi bağımsız devlet
kurumlarının tesisi öngörülmektedir.

Visits: 191

Turkey-Greece Tensions

The tension between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean continues
feverishly. This is because countries can not compromise with other countries to protect
their interests. A legal solution seems difficult due to the limited enforcement power of
international law.
The latest tension between the two countries is that the Turkish ship " Oruç Reis" was
sent to search for oil and natural gas in Cyprus. Greece considered this a violation of
sovereign rights and sent warships to the region. This situation has been criticized harshly by
Turkey. President Erdogan also announced that Turkey will react harshly if established
diplomatic relations.
If we consider the event on the basis of international law; The U.N. Convention on the
Law of the Sea asserts that countries may claim a territorial sea extending up to 12 nautical
miles (nm) from their coasts including the sovereignty of offshore oil underwater. Also,
distances of countries up to 200 miles are considered as Exclusive Economic Zone. In other
words, they have the right to benefit from this region economically.
Implementation of this law that is written in countries such as Greece and Turkey are
close together, it becomes difficult. Normally the 12-mile limit was reduced to 6 miles with
the Turkey-Greece because of the proximity. But Greece’s desire to raise this border again
strained the relations. Turkey said it would be a casus belli. Although it seems difficult for the
two NATO countries to fight, it is certain that the tension between them will increase if it is
not resolved diplomatically.
As I mentioned before, international law expects the countries to come to an
agreement and to be resolved since it is not fully authorized on sanctions. Control of small
islands between the two countries to be given to Greece opposes Turkey. And it claims to
have the right to extract oil in these regions. This causes countries to not agree among
themselves.
Turkey began tracking a tougher stance on foreign policy after the economic
slowdown. From this rule, it is extremely insistent on defending his rights in the Eastern
The Mediterranean. Other European countries see Turkey as a threat and so they do not support it.

The only way to solve this situation seems to be that the two countries agree to share
oil resources in the region. Otherwise, the disagreement on the issue will cause further strain
in the relations between the two countries.

This article is written by Esma Kaya

Visits: 200

How NATO Can Avoid a Strategic Decoupling in the Eastern Mediterranean

Since an extraordinary naval standoff occurred between French and Turkish warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in early June, Paris and Ankara have been trading increasingly sharp verbal blows over their respective actions in implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya. While this may appear to be just another moment of friction between NATO allies, particularly with Turkey, it is not. This incident represents a more deep-seated strategic dilemma for NATO as well as an increasingly stark divide between the European Union and Turkey.

This strategic dilemma is rooted in Turkey’s new regional foreign and security policy, based in part on its “Blue Homeland” doctrine. The implementation of this doctrine has caused a series of serious incidents that have been observed by Turkey’s allies but fleetingly, if rarely, addressed. Encountering little resistance, Turkey believes its actions to be largely accepted (as some are, such as limiting Russian influence). But the totality of Turkey’s policies and actions have now reached a point of dangerous escalation, which could substantially challenge the coherence of NATO’s collective defense posture in the Mediterranean and weaken its political cohesion. Turkey’s actions threaten to hinder vital NATO-EU cooperation in the region as well.

To avoid this, allies should approach the growing instability in the Mediterranean through an integrative policy that seeks to deescalate tensions and define, with Ankara, common interests by identifying some agreed principles to guide regional behavior. If Turkey is unwilling to join such an initiative, greater transatlantic tensions lie ahead.

Turkey’s Blue Homeland Ambitions
Turkey’s Blue Homeland Doctrine has its origins in a plan drawn up by Turkish admiral Cem Gurdeniz in 2006. It sets out an ambitious goal to underline and expand, through assertive diplomacy and military means, Turkey’s influence in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas while enabling access to energy and other economic resources. President Erdogan adopted it in 2015 as an integral part of a national strategy of “forward defense” in the context of his sustained drive to assert Turkish independence in all aspects of foreign policy to include influence in its surrounding regions.

Manifestations of the doctrine were on full display during the February 2019 Mavi Vatan (Blue Homeland) exercise, which was the largest combat exercise since the establishment of the Turkish Navy and was conducted simultaneously in the Aegean, Black, and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish government-controlled media described the exercise as a “war rehearsal.” Another example has been Turkey’s assertive energy claims around the disputed Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In February 2018, Turkey sent naval vessels to stop an Italian drilling vessel on its way to drill for gas off Cyprus’ coast. Then in the spring of 2019, Ankara sent ships into Cypriot waters, escorted by the Turkish navy, to conduct its own drilling activities. European Union member states unanimously denounced those “illegal actions,” expressed their support for Cyprus by restricting EU pre-accession aid to Turkey, and suspended negotiations of an air transport agreement. Israel also encountered Turkey’s naval activism when its oceanographic ship, Bat Galim, operating in Cypriot waters in cooperation with Nicosia, was forced out by Turkish warships. Regional tensions reached a new high in November 2019 when Turkey signed an agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord. The agreement defines a maritime border between the two countries in the Mediterranean Sea and permits Turkey to defend Libya’s maritime interests (which extend to six nautical miles from Crete) as well as allowing for joint extraction of energy resources in the Mediterranean.

To date, Turkey has met little resistance from either the European Union, NATO, or the United States in response to its actions, with the exception of harsh words and limited sanctions. Some EU parliamentarians have denounced Ankara’s “gunboat diplomacy,” and EU high representative Borrell released a declaration stating that EU countries are “growing increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey.” EU foreign affairs ministers convened on July 13, asking Ankara to provide “clarifications” on its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and Syria and asking High Representative Borrell to provide options to reinforce the sanctions imposed on Turkey for its gas and oil drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ. Secretary of State Pompeo has called Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters “unacceptable,” yet this is unlikely to be followed by concrete action given that the Trump administration has not yet imposed legally mandated sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

This lack of a holistic and united transatlantic response to Turkey’s naval actions has emboldened Ankara to take further actions, particularly at a time when Erdogan seeks to project independent power abroad and heighten nationalistic sentiment at home to distract the Turkish population from great economic difficulties. The restoration of Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a powerful example of this policy in action coupled with its military interventions in Libya and Syria. Absent international resolution of the Cypriot and Libyan disputes (which are on the cusp of bringing in other powers, such as Egypt and Israel), President Erdogan has (rightly) concluded that Turkey has more to gain by its unilateral use of hard power and reaching its own diplomatic agreements that suits its needs rather than through broader diplomatic engagement and dialogue.

Escalating Tensions with Allies
As Turkey secures its regional interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, it sets itself on a collision course with official EU and NATO operations, which undermines broader regional and international stability. The first major collision occurred in April 2020 when the European Union launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI to implement the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya. Despite a lack of policy unity over Libya, EU countries agreed on a common objective: the importance of preventing further military escalation by taking joint action to enforce the UN embargo. Turkey denounced IRINI as taking one-sided approach to the embargo that focuses only on constraining the Government of National Accord, which Turkey supports. The U.S. State Department seems to agree. Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker sided with the Turkish interpretation, questioning whether the EU mission was “serious,” because it only focused on interdicting Turkish materiel and not preventing Russian military equipment from reaching Libya.

On June 10 2020, Operation IRINI unsuccessfully tried to investigate a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, escorted by Turkish warships and headed toward Libya. The Turkish ships prevented the Greek navy from inspecting the vessel, claiming the cargo was “medical equipment.” Tensions further escalated that same day when the French Navy ship Le Courbet, operating in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation launched by NATO in 2016 to support maritime situation awareness, counterterrorism, and security capacity building, tried to inspect the same civilian cargo ship. But the Turkish escort intervened again, leading this time to a more aggressive and dangerous incident. According to the French government, Turkish warships turned their fire-control radars on the French warship (the preliminary phase before launching a weapon on a target) and pointed guns at the warship to dissuade any attempts at inspecting the cargo. Ankara rejected these claims, calling them “groundless,” and instead accused the French ship of conducting a “high-speed and dangerous maneuver.” Speaking to reporters in Paris this week, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the United States was “very sympathetic with France” in its dispute with Turkey, and “NATO allies shouldn’t be turning fire control radars on one another.” At France’s request, NATO has launched a formal investigation into the incident, but the results of the investigation have not been released publicly.

The Risk of a Mediterranean Strategic Decoupling
Since the incident, tensions between Turkey and France have escalated as both presidents have used very strong rhetoric against the other. Although it might be tempting to hope that tensions will fade, they are likely to escalate again and have major implications for the European Union, NATO, and the rule of law.

First, tensions have now reached a level where they risk significantly impacting NATO. Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system against the wishes of the United States and its NATO allies, its unilateral military interventions into Syria against Kurdish forces, its frequent military interventions into northern Iraq (its most recent air and ground operation was in mid-June), its violations of Iran (and likely Venezuela) sanctions, its continued probing of Greek airspace, and its recent veto over important NATO plans for the defense of NATO’s eastern flank (which was suddenly lifted days after the naval incident) leads one to conclude that Turkey is increasingly pursuing its national interests over NATO’s collective defense interests. The decision by the United States and other F-35 program partners to remove Turkey from the program (although it continues to contribute to the supply chain) will diminish NATO defenses in general as well as its readiness, interoperability, and effectiveness of NATO’s air defense capabilities. Likewise, the announcement of France’s withdrawal of its forces from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian following the naval incident with Turkey reduces much-needed naval capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean for both the European Union and NATO to jointly enforce the UN arms embargo in Libya.

NATO has always struggled to articulate and deploy forces to protect and defend its southern flank and has devoted too little strategic attention to the Mediterranean over the last few years while powers such as Russia have consistently reinforced their military presence. With a dramatic increase in conflict as well as migration challenges, NATO and the European Union need to be an effective and unified presence in the Mediterranean despite disagreements with Turkey. The European Union relies on NATO intelligence and other support to execute many of its missions, so a diminished NATO also diminishes the European Union.

Absent more focus on the Mediterranean, Ankara and Southern European NATO members may conclude that the alliance has become, de facto, exclusively focused on its eastern flank. These members may see to protect and pursue their own interests in the region as well, modeling Turkey’s behavior of ad hoc arrangements, new regional alignments, and reversible bilateral understandings, thus creating even greater regional instability.

Second, these tensions reveal troubling divergences between Turkey and the European Union. From the EU perspective, Ankara’s aggressive pursuit of energy interests, disregard for the rule of law within Turkey (which should concern NATO as well), and use of migrants to pressure the European Union and destabilize the European neighborhood are at odds with EU values and interests. In the case of Cyprus, the European Union cannot be an unbiased actor. It supports its member state Cyprus and its ability to advance its economic interests within its EEZ according to international law, as the European Union would with any country elsewhere in the world. And while Turkey is free to pursue its national interests at the expense of collective European interests, its actions move it away from a more constructive partnership or strengthened economic ties with the European Union. And a more problematic EU-Turkey relationship further complicates conflict resolution efforts in the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and the Caucasus.

Eastern Mediterranean Principles
The preamble of NATO’s Charter states that its members pledge to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.” All NATO allies, including Turkey, need to promote stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. A first step would be to create an agreed set of principles to include: (1) ensure that all regional partners reap the benefits of energy exploration in the region, with a path toward equitable sharing of energy revenues acting as a confidence-building measure toward restarting the Cyprus peace process; (2) contain Russian influence and presence in the region; (3) ensure NATO’s freedom of action from the Black Sea through to the Mediterranean; (4) work toward regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa region, including counterterrorism efforts; (5) uphold international legal norms and UN resolutions, such as the UN arms embargo on Libya and efforts to reach a cease-fire, as well as countries’ territorial or maritime integrity (regardless of existing disputes); and (6) redouble efforts to avoid future maritime incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean between NATO allies by establishing new procedures.

Stronger U.S. political and security involvement in the region will help strengthen NATO’s resolve in the Eastern Mediterranean, be a bulwark against Russia’s growing military presence, and better balance tensions between France and Turkey. The European Union (and France in particular) will need to identify pragmatic ways to engage with Turkey on a range of issues and not simply denounce its actions. As Turkey’s economic situation deteriorates, greater economic opportunities, such as expanding the EU bilateral trade relationship with Turkey or increasing U.S. foreign direct investment, might encourage Ankara to participate in the development of a regional framework of principles. Unfortunately, these relationships have grown very fragile as tensions have risen, and Turkey’s unilateral actions have significantly destabilized the region. Hopefully, refocusing on a set of agreed principles and incentivizing progress can restore NATO unity and restore focus on protecting its southern flank.

Visits: 416

The Goal Must Be A Unified Post-Conflict Libya: What To Do Next?

Source: www.uikpanorama.com

By Mehmet Öğütçü

 

The cards in Libya have been reshuffled after General Haftar suffered a string of military defeats, with his forces ousted from the Tripoli region, thanks to Turkish support on the ground. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Haftar had accepted a ceasefire but there is still skepticism over whether this (apparently aimed at gaining time) will hold.

While there are many other actors active in Libya, Russia and Turkey figure more prominently than others as the players most engaged on the side of their respective allies. One possible compromise between Ankara and Moscow on Libya could possibly be part of their bigger picture bargaining, encompassing the Syrian conflict, Black Sea troubles and bilateral agenda of energy, defence, tourism and trade expansion. However, both sides seem to agree to disagree due to the sharp divergence of strategic interests.

***** ***** ***** *****

Clearly, it is in nobody’s interest to keep Libya divided as favoured by some of the regional neighbours which desire to have a geopolitical clout in their immediate neighbourhood. The common interest is to achieve a lasting political settlement and economic reconstruction in Libya -without further delay by halting the painful 9-year old civil war- which is at the economic and strategic crossroads of three continents.

In light of Russia’s strategic gains in Syria, the US feels the strong urge to engage more actively in Libya to deny Moscow another military stronghold in the Mediterranean.

External actors have indeed exacerbated Libya’s problems by funneling money, mercenaries and weapons to proxies that have put their own interests above those of the Libyan people. UN efforts to broker peace have failed and been overshadowed by competing peace conferences from Moscow to Berlin sponsored by various foreign governments. There is need for an all-embracing and creative fresh initiative.

The Libyan conflict is clearly viewed as part of strategic moves to control the country’s rich oil and gas resources as well as to redefine the maritime borders of some Mediterranean countries. It involves the projection of political and military power, with most spending on the Mediterranean energy projects (not so attractive in the current international energy realities on the ground) seen as protecting maritime borders and investing in future national defence.

It is only through the constructive intervention of a major power or willing coalition of powers including those in Libya’s neighbourhood that the peace efforts can be realistically revived for practical “win-win” outcomes.

Why Libya is so important

The future of Libya is important for all players, regionally and globally, viewed from their own narrow strategic interests, but more importantly than anything else for the Libyan people itself. Below are some reasons why Libya matters greatly:

First, its unique geography. Libya is a country in the Maghreb region, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad to the south, Niger to the southwest, Algeria to the west, and Tunisia to the northwest. It is of strategic importance as a gateway to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Second, facing Malta and Italy in its proximity and France, Greece and Turkey, Libya is critical for ensuring European security. It can also play a crucial role in containing the growth of terrorism. The possibility of Russia gaining strategic stronghold in Libya is a cold shower to the Europeans and Americans who saw what happened in Syria where Russia enjoys privileged access to a naval base and an airbase in the strategic locations.

Third, Libya serves as a bulwark against the tide of migrants and refugees from Africa and North Africa. There are about 650,000 migrants and refugees in Libya, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa. Armed groups, including extremists such as ISIS, have proliferated and the country has also become a principal transit point for people from across Africa who want to reach Europe.

Fourth, Libyan energy resources, particularly oil, arouse the appetite of many outsiders. ENI currently controls almost half of oil and gas production fields. Total wants to enter. So do a number of other players given that oil reserves in Libya are among the largest in Africa and ranking the tenth largest globally with 46.4 billion barrels giving Libya 77 years of reserves at current production rates. It also provides gas to Italy via a pipeline under the Mediterranean.

Fifth, Libya was a very lucrative market in the pre-civil war era; many countries and companies are now vying for a larger share of the reconstruction opportunities that will arise in the post-conflict Libya.

Who wants what?

As things stand, Libya is not only divided between the internationally recognised government, the General Hafter forces and some autonomous tribal groups. There is also a sharp polarisation of global and regional powers involved in the ongoing conflict.

In recent years, Libya’s conflict has turned into a proxy war, with a number of foreign powers joining in to defend ideological and economic interests. Al-Sarraj’s administration is backed by the UN and Western powers including the US, but mainly relies on Turkey, Qatar and Italy. Haftar enjoys the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and France.

The challenge is how to bring together these external and domestic contenders towards achieving a peaceful, secure and prosperous Libya. It is also critical to avoid further division which will create security risks to European, African and Mediterranean nations while damaging prospects for post-conflict energy development and commercial interests.

***** ***** ***** *****

There are critical geopolitical, commercial, and maritime issues involved in Turkey’s supporting the only UN recognised government in Tripoli. Turkey is the only NATO ally which holds the ground in Libya and does not allow Russia and other non-regional actors to have a free-ride. Co-operation between Ankara and Tripoli has shifted the balance of power in the Libyan Civil War, in the words of Ahmed Maiteeq, the Libyan deputy prime minister. Turkish military commanders and intelligence officers appear to have a decisive say in the operation center at the Mitiga military academy near Tripoli at present.

Without Turkish engagement Libya could have fallen into Russian sphere of influence, thus giving rise to a Russian belt in the Mediterranean Sea facing Europe, North Africa and Africa. Fortunately, Erdogan and Putin have developed personal rapport to manage serious divergence of interests as seen in Syria. General Haftar had been winning the war to take control of Tripoli until Turkey forcefully intervened with fresh deployments of advanced drones, anti-aircraft batteries and intelligence support, slowly turning the tide of the battle. Ankara is therefore a critical actor in any Libyan settlement to reckon with.

***** ***** ***** *****

Kremlin’s strategic goals as a wise chessboard player remain an open secret if you judge what Moscow has been trying to achieve in a vast geography from Southeast Europe, Ukraine, Georgia and the Caspian to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Chiefly, there are two main goals that drive Russia’s policy in Libya: First, expanding its presence in the Mediterranean Sea as a top priority for Russia’s regional strategy since the days of the Russian Tsar, and secondly, monitoring NATO and jihadism, as well as safeguarding its military, economic and energy interests.

The Russians are determined to fill in the strategic vacuum left by the US and the Europe. Look at Russian actions in this divided country which are no different from what we have been witnessing in Syria. Russia has created a strong military footprint in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean and wants to continue the same path in Libya.

For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. The accusations by the US come at a pivotal point in Libya. The Soviet Union maintained a constant navy vigil in the Mediterranean during the Cold War but Russia’s presence in the region withered in the years after the 1991 Soviet collapse amid economic woes and military funding shortages. The Head of the Russian contact group on intra-Libyan settlement, Lev Dengov, revealed that Haftar asked Russia to build a military base in the country’s east.

***** ***** ***** *****

The US warned European nations growing increasingly friendly with the Kremlin that a Russian presence in Libya could pose a long-term security challenge by potentially giving it the ability to curtail military actions by other countries in north Africa. If Russia manages to obtain air or naval base rights on Libya’s coast, it will create very real security concerns on Europe’s southern flank.

While the US State Department and the Pentagon have vocally supported the UN-backed government in Tripoli, the White House has repeatedly if half-heartedly sided with General Haftar in the conflict until recently. However, following Haftar’s latest defeats and rapprochement with Moscow, even the White House appears to be distancing itself from him.

The US released surveillance imagery purporting to show Russian aircraft operating in Libya to support mercenaries of the Wagner Group. Washington has accused Russia of deploying a dozen of MiG-29 Mikoyan and Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jets in eastern Libyan bases used by Wagner to provide air support to tip the scales in the north African country’s civil war in favour of Haftar.

***** ***** ***** *****

The UAE-Turkish rivalry — rooted in a battle for dominance of global Muslim religious soft power; geopolitical competition across the Muslim world, including the Middle East and the Horn of Africa; and fundamentally opposed attitudes towards political Islam – has escalated military confrontations and complicated, if not disrupted, efforts to resolve conflicts in Libya and Syria. Yet, it is unrealistic to see Turkey, a regional powerhouse, and the UAE on the same scale.

There is no clear understanding of the UAE rationale to punch above its weight in Libya. The UAE has significantly aided Haftar with air support and advanced weapons. Saudi Arabia has reportedly supported Haftar with generous funds, and Egypt has provided his forces with weapons and support through its porous border with Libya.

***** ***** ***** *****

Whether we like or not, neighbours must bepart and parcel of any Libyan settlement by virtue of their common borders. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as other neighbours are careful to remain neutral in Libyan, thinking of the risks of heavy involvement in the affairs of a neighbour without knowing in which direction the winds might blow down the road.

Libya turned into a failed state following the fall of Muammer Gaddafi, whose overthrow in 2011 was aided by a NATO-led bombing campaign. Weapons proliferated in the rebellion’s aftermath despite an embargo. Recently, NATO expressed readiness to give its support to the government of Tripoli, also known as the Government of National Accord.

***** ***** ***** *****

The European Union has been split, with France despite repeated protestations of neutrality seen as preferring Haftar and former colonial power Italy the GNA, with the EU largely watching from the sidelines. The EU has struggled to find a unified approach to the crisis in Libya, despite the country’s proximity to its shores. Its inaction has increasingly left Turkey and Russia to call the shots in Libya – though their attempt to broker a long-term cease-fire has not achieved any result.

Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, sees stabilising the country and control over its hydrocarbon resources as a matter of national security. It bet on the al-Sarraj government to secure its interests. Migration is another concern; Rome last year renewed a controversial migration agreement with the GNA.

The French are worried about the terrorist infiltration from the southern borders of Libya into Chad and Niger where its forces are vulnerable to attacks. France is widely thought to provide Haftar with military assistance; French missiles were found at an LNA base last year, but the government has denied supplying Haftar with weapons.

Messages

What’s happening in Libya is a reflection of the tectonic changes in world geopolitics where the power is shifting and there are attempts to re-engineer the regional balance of power.
There are signals that we may be nearing towards a settlement on Libya. All efforts in this direction should be geared towards ending domestic hostilities and preparing Libya for the post-war political settlement and economic reconstruction. There is a need to achieve cessation of hostilities between Sarraj and Hafter while at the same time keeping external forces in check.
Reviving Libyan hydrocarbon industry, even at this time of production cuts and low prices, is a priority given that the country needs revenues for paying salaries, infrastructure and debts.
Libyan oil and gas are worth their weight in diamonds. Current level of oil production is at 91,108 barrels a day whereas it stood at 1.7 mbd before the shut-down. The Sarraj government has announced that a political solution can help Libya regain this level within only a few weeks.
Not only politicians, diplomats, generals, international mediators and intelligence officers should seize the opportunity in Libya but also business groups must be fully engaged in conflict resolution efforts so that the country will be ready for much-needed post-conflict reconstruction.
There is recent talk of Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides in Libya’s wrenching war, finding a deal over the Libyan conflict that would leave the West as bystanders. Such a scenario would be a replay of Russia and Turkey’s alliance on Syria, where despite being on opposing sides of the conflict they have worked closely together to find a solution to the civil war, causing unease in the West.
The US, the EU and Libya’s neighbours are other prime players to be on board for supporting an end to the Libyan crisis, but Washington can and must take the lead in mobilising its NATO and regional allies (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and hopefully NATO ally France currently supporting Hafter) for a definitive solution in the country so that Libya should not be another Syria in the waiting.
Last, but not least, the future of Libya must be decided by the Libyan people, no matter how divided they may be and not the external powers which promote the proxies to gain political and commercial stakes.

Visits: 127

COVID-19 PUT THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN’S HYDROCARBON DREAMS ON HOLD

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will do something pretty unusual in the age of COVID-19 — travel overseas. Mitsotakis will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel to discuss the resumption of commercial flights between their countries, as well as regional energy politics — two things which have been dramatically disrupted by the pandemic. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is also expected to visit Israel later this month.

The discovery of offshore hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean over a decade ago has sparked intense diplomatic activity. Hoping to maximize the sea’s riches, many of the region’s governments have proposed ambitious projects that would transport the natural gas to Europe via undersea pipelines. Encouraged by U.S. administrations that saw energy development as a vehicle for strengthening ties between its allies, the rough edges of a new regional framework for cooperation slowly took form in January 2019, when the governments of Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority established the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, a multinational body tasked with developing a regional gas market and mechanism for resource development.

BECOME A MEMBER

COVID-19 has scuttled this momentum. The pandemic’s impact on the global energy market has damaged the conditions for Eastern Mediterranean states to profitably export their gas, and has caused a massive rethink amongst policymakers about how to make the most out of the circumstances. Although regional actors may no longer be bound to building pipelines, energy still has the potential to propel greater regional cooperation in the coming decade. American diplomatic support and engagement would go a long way to turning this opportunity into a reality.

Israel’s Stake in the Eastern Mediterranean

This is a bitter pill for all of the region’s actors to swallow, but perhaps none more so than Israel. Historically bereft of fossil fuels, the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan fields (in 2009 and 2010, respectively) were seen as a potential game-changer for the Jewish State. The Netanyahu government committed to the concept of gas exports as a strategic boon to Israel, and aggressively pursued a regional policy that embraced partnerships with Greece and Cyprus, as well as export deals with Jordan and Egypt. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz spent most of the last five years promoting the “East Med pipeline” — a 1,900-kilometer undersea pipeline that would link Israel to Italy via Greece and Cyprus.

However, the East Med pipeline — which upon completion would be the longest undersea pipeline in the world — was always more of a political project than a serious commercial endeavor. Not only did the path of the proposed pipeline run through disputed waters between Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, but also active geological fault lines and deep trenches. These geopolitical and technical challenges could theoretically be overcome, yet industry experts argue that the biggest obstacle to the East Med pipeline is its commercial feasibility. With an estimated $7 billion price tag, there are doubts that Israeli and Cypriot gas would remain competitive by the time it arrived in Europe. For several years the European Commission has been exploring the possibility of committing to the pipeline, but at this stage is unlikely to back it financially.

The collapse of global energy prices brought on by the combination of an oversupplied market, warmer-than-average winter, and the coronavirus pandemic, has buried the East Med pipeline and put Israel in a serious quandary. Committed to a contract with Tamar and Leviathan’s developers that no longer meshes with the current economic circumstances, Israel is paying three times the global average for its own gas. The price discrepancy is so sharp that the Israel Electric Corporation is buying imported liquid natural gas at half the price of domestic supply. It is no wonder, then, that Steinitz began his second term in office with declarations that Israel would accelerate its construction of solar energy infrastructure.

The Position of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey

Israel is not alone in this predicament. Almost the entire Eastern Mediterranean is wrestling with similar questions.

The vanishing prospects for the East Med pipeline are as disconcerting for Greece and Cyprus as they are for Israel. Both countries are essential partners in the project. In January 2020, leaders from the three states met in a public demonstration of their commitment to the pipeline (they reportedly signed an agreement but this document has not been made public). Cyprus hoped to link its modest offshore discoveries to the East Med pipeline, and Greece was eager to function as a conduit to Europe. The important difference is that Cyprus’ natural gas fields are not yet operational. In early May, Italy’s ENI, France’s Total, and ExxonMobil announced a year-long suspension of drilling activities in Cyprus’ waters. There are no guarantees that the developers will return with the same interest as they once did, and the remaining export options are costly.

Even operational energy partnerships are facing tough choices. For example, Jordan’s energy arrangement with Israel (45 billion cubic meters over 15 years at an estimated $10 billion) is deeply unpopular because it normalizes ties with a country seen by most Jordanians as a belligerent. With a global energy market that is driving liquid natural gas prices to historic lows, the monarchy is under mounting pressure to find cheaper alternatives. If Israel continues with its plans to partially annex the West Bank, Amman may sacrifice the deal as a symbolic gesture of disapproval even if the underlying causes are economic. Jordan might hope that it could fall back on the United States, as a guarantor in the deal, to cover its debts.

Egypt hoped that offshore discoveries would transform it into a regional energy hub, converting Israeli and Cypriot gas at its liquid natural gas facilities in Idku and Damietta and then shipping them off to Europe. Today, Egypt is struggling to find buyers, has frozen activity at one of its liquid natural gas sites, and cut production at Zohr field. While the Egyptian domestic market is diverse enough to absorb some Israeli imports, this isn’t the long-term arrangement the two parties envisioned some 16 months ago.

No matter where you turn, the Eastern Mediterranean energy picture is bleak. Debt-ridden Lebanon was dismayed by news in late April that initial explorations failed to uncover a meaningful gas field. Politicians in Beirut dreamed that offshore discoveries would deliver an instant economic windfall. But with energy companies announcing a suspension of activities in Cyprus’s waters just a week later — the same companies exploring Lebanese waters — the Lebanese government will have to search elsewhere for a financial bailout.

Meanwhile, Turkey appears to be taking advantage of the regional turmoil by continuing to send exploratory and drilling vessels into Eastern Mediterranean waters. However, these vessels’ purpose is more political than commercial. Spurned by the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum and with no resolution to the Cyprus conflict in sight, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned his military — on land and at sea — to protect Turkish claims to the continental shelf and break what is perceived as strategic containment of Turkey by the region’s actors. Turkish intervention in the Libyan civil war is at least partially driven by Ankara’s desire to break the will of its neighbors and force them into direct negotiations. Not only has this strategy put Turkey at loggerheads with longtime rivals Greece and Cyprus — with whom Turkey shares a long history of maritime boundary disputes — but other actors as well, including the United States.

In the long run, low liquid natural gas prices could become the norm. Some forecast that the present gas glut may continue for nearly a decade as other projects come onto the market. International projects that require costly infrastructure are going to find it difficult to compete with existing liquid natural gas providers and a growing renewable energy industry. Although COVID-19 appears to have undone significant progress in the Eastern Mediterranean, it ironically may have rescued Eastern Mediterranean states from shortsighted investments. Policymakers have benefited from a rare mulligan and can now reassess their regional prospects.

Post-Pandemic Energy Strategy

The first, and most obvious, post-coronavirus strategy, is to keep the gas local. Rather than prioritizing export markets in Europe, the challenge for Eastern Mediterranean states is to diversify their domestic infrastructure and economies to be more gas friendly. This is especially relevant for Egypt, whose domestic demand is only going to increase as its population grows. Emphasizing the regional market will require intense discussions between the main developers and governments to find the appropriate contractual language that suits the involved parties.

But would organizing a regional market assume that all actors can benefit? Over the last decade, offshore hydrocarbons were as much as cause for confrontation between Eastern Mediterranean states as they were an incentive for cooperation. Now that it is clear the gas bonanza won’t arrive as quickly as anticipated, perhaps the region’s actors will consider a recommitment to regional diplomacy and conflict resolution. From the ongoing Libyan civil war to the maritime disputes between Greece and Turkey, there is no shortage of opportunities for those willing to decouple their energy aspirations from their interest in creating a functional regional space.

This is where the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum comes into play. Whereas the forum’s original purpose was to deal with matters pertaining to natural gas, post-COVID it could serve as a platform for discussion on a host of issues, from tourism to environmental protection to pandemic support to alternative energy cooperation and security. If a global pandemic instructs states about anything, it is that neighbors remain neighbors regardless of the boundaries placed between them. In short, it behooves Eastern Mediterranean states to support one another.

America’s Role in the Region

The United States should play a central role in this process. Not only is Washington the preferred mediator for many of the region’s conflicts, but American support for the development of offshore hydrocarbons and regional cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean has been a rare point of bipartisan consensus during both the Obama and Trump administrations, who saw the region’s gas as way to strengthen the position of its Eastern Mediterranean allies while also reducing European dependency on Russian gas. Continued engagement with Eastern Mediterranean actors will allow the United States to guide its partners towards a more cooperative future, help develop deconfliction mechanisms, and discourage interference from outside actors like Russia, Iran, and China.

This should happen in a number of different ways. First, the United States should reengage Eastern Mediterranean states in the process of maritime boundary delimitation. This issue a priority for all of the region’s actors, including European heavyweights France and Italy. In particular, Turkey’s signing of a maritime boundary agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord in November 2019 sparked considerable protest throughout the region and entangled the ongoing civil war in the Eastern Mediterranean’s energy politics. While the Libyan civil war isn’t the source of all of the region’s tensions, American mediation between the aggrieved parties — notably NATO member states Turkey and Greece — on the issue of maritime boundaries would start rolling back tensions and create a more constructive environment for future negotiations between Turkey and Cyprus. The signing of a maritime boundary agreement between Italy and Greece on June 9 was widely seen as a maneuver to check Turkey’s advance. U.S. diplomats should also encourage Israel and Lebanon to resolve their outstanding maritime issues, which would allow foreign companies to feel more comfortable exploring in Lebanese waters whenever they decide to resume activities. A semi-enclosed maritime space like the Eastern Mediterranean requires delimitation agreements in order to avoid conflict. Ideally, the United States would bring all region’s actors to the negotiating table simultaneously. However, the present conditions necessitate a flexible, hands-on approach to certain disputes.

Additionally, the United States can empower the nascent Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum by investing more diplomatic resources in the organization, and incentivizing collaboration between members states. One way of doing this is by expanding the language of the 2019 Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act (also known as the Menendez-Rubio Bill) in a manner that offers potential avenues for participation by Eastern Mediterranean actors not mentioned in this legislative package, specifically Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, and Turkey. The United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center described in the Menendez-Rubio Bill could be a conduit for multinational research and development in the myriad topics that are directly and indirectly impacted by offshore hydrocarbon exploration. This could open channels of communication between American and Eastern Mediterranean industries, strengthening both economic, cultural, and strategic interests.

Going Forward

For the better part of the last decade, it was expected that energy would transform the Eastern Mediterranean. However, the pandemic’s aftershocks have disrupted the prospects for regional cooperation. A collective pivot — with American support — away from the uncertain promises of energy could be a blessing in disguise. It provides regional states the opportunity to embrace a shared future that emphasizes energy diversification, multinational cooperation, and conflict resolution.

Although the United States appears committed to reducing its presence on the global stage, it should preserve and expand energy-centric multilateral diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean that enjoys bipartisan support. The region is rich with American partners — a lasting foreign policy legacy would be finding a formula that would allow them to settle their own disputes and find new ways to cooperate.

 

This article taken from warontherocks.com

This article written by Gabriel Mitchell.

Visits: 106

DEEP SEA RIVALS: EUROPE, TURKEY, AND NEW EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN CONFLICT LINES

The eastern Mediterranean is becoming ever more perilous as geopolitical fault lines steadily enmesh the region. These rifts emerge from the Cyprus ‘frozen conflict’, competition for valuable gas fields, and the increasingly entangled wars in Libya and Syria.

Overview: Fear and loathing in the Eastern Mediterranean

Asli Aydıntaşbaş Julien Barnes-Dacey Cinzia Bianco Hugh Lovatt Tarek Megerisi

In a world of pandemics, forever wars, and great power showdowns, it might come as a surprise that Europe’s next crisis is emerging from disputes over maritime law. In the eastern Mediterranean, a scramble is under way between countries in the region for access to recently discovered gas fields. Conflicting legal claims to the fields are merging with old and new conflicts, and have led to the creation of a new geopolitical front in the eastern Mediterranean that should cause Europeans substantial concern. At the heart of these tensions lies the unresolved dispute in Cyprus and long-standing antagonism between Turkey and Greece, around which a broader front of anti-Turkey forces is lining up. These disputes have also now grown to encompass the civil wars in Libya and Syria, and have drawn in states from as far afield as the Gulf and Russia.

The eastern Mediterranean’s potential for escalation was evident in February 2020, when France deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to defensively stalk Turkish frigates sailing near to the contested gas fields close to Cyprus. The fact that NATO allies are staring each other down on the European Union’s doorstep should cause all Europeans to pay greater attention to the region. The escalating conflict in Libya and the rivalry between Turkey and its Gulf rivals now directly intersect with the European-Turkish disputes over gas and territory. What happens in the eastern Mediterranean is no longer a peripheral issue for Europe.

The EU has a direct stake in the matter, but remains divided on how to approach it. The bloc has a significant interest in upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, securing its own energy interests, and advancing a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to manage refugee and terrorism challenges. The anti-Turkey front that has converged in the eastern Mediterranean is led by EU member states Cyprus, Greece, and France. They, in turn, are working with players from further afield, such the United Arab Emirates, whose intensifying competition with Turkey is a defining feature of the strained – and ever-more destabilising – situation in the Middle East. But, collectively, these countries’ activity risks entrenching geopolitical fault lines, with consequences for Europe as a whole, not least the crucial relationship with Turkey.

To address this, the EU and its member states need to change tack and pursue a wider, inclusive deal with Turkey. They will need to incrementally agree on the components of this new bargain and, critically, base it on pragmatic engagement with Ankara rather than escalatory measures against it. Europe’s decision-makers are aware that they cannot afford a complete diplomatic breakdown, much less a kinetic confrontation, with Turkey given the world of trouble already present on their eastern and southern flanks.

This awareness needs to translate into a policy shift in which Europeans remain committed to key policy principles – namely, the sovereignty of Cypriot and, therefore, EU territory – but also recognise the dangers of current tensions with Ankara, as well as the convergence of Middle Eastern conflict lines within areas of their dispute. This approach can only succeed if Turkey also demonstrates its support for it by scaling back its drilling activity and naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Europeans should incentivise Turkey to do so by dialling down the recent military and political measures they have put in place. This will help prevent the dispute from slipping into increasingly zero-sum and dangerous positioning, while dispelling the impression that Europe has ganged up on Turkey in a common cause with Arab states.

NEW GAS FIELDS AND THE ANTI-TURKEY CLUB
Cyprus is central to the eastern Mediterranean’s rising tensions. After more than 40 years of frozen conflict, over the past decade hopes rose that the discovery of significant gas reserves could improve the chances of a settlement between the island’s Turkish and Greek communities. In the process, gas exports from Cyprus would help the EU diversify its energy supplies and boost regional cooperation. In time, however, a different impulse took over – one that is now increasing tension between not just Cyprus and Turkey but also between wider regional players.

A collective interest in leveraging eastern Mediterranean gas reserves spurred increased cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt, as well as key energy companies from Italy and France. This grouping has grown to encompass Italy itself, Jordan, and Palestine, culminating in the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in Cairo in January 2019. Noticeably absent is Turkey – despite its overlapping maritime claims, vast domestic market, and potential as a transit route for eastern Mediterranean gas exports. This coalition has received the backing of the United States, whose relationship with Turkey is also strained due to divergences on a growing number of issues, most recently Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems.

Although the desire to create a geopolitical hub that excludes Turkey was not the organisation’s founding purpose, it has grown to define the emerging coalition. Perceptions of the EMGF as an anti-Turkey club were bolstered when it extended its remit to include regional security cooperation and joint military drills around Cyprus. Greece and Cyprus have sought to leverage the undersea gas reserves and the creation of the EMGF grouping to improve their own political standing – at Turkey’s expense. The forum offers both countries a means to strengthen a broader alliance to counter Turkish influence. Israel and Egypt maintain acrimonious relations with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the forum’s anti-Turkey slant has also attracted the UAE, which is engaged in an acute regional rivalry with Turkey. Like Egypt, the UAE takes issue with Turkey’s support for Muslim Brotherhood movements across the region.

This fault line is starkest in Libya, where Turkey and the UAE provide military support to opposite sides in the deepening civil war. In November 2019, Ankara and the internationally recognised Libyan government struck a partnership agreement on a maritime boundary, which created an exclusive economic zone that cuts across Greek and Cypriot interests. The move seeks to preclude the proposed EastMed pipeline, which would bring gas to European markets from Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus. Turkey has also recently applied for licences to start drilling off the coast of Libya.

This agreement caused Cyprus and Greece to line up behind Abu Dhabi’s man in Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who France has long supported. But these fault lines also extend into Syria, with supporters of both sides of the civil war hiring Syrian fighters. This draws the Libya and Syria conflicts closer together – and gives Russia a greater opportunity to cement its position in the Mediterranean.

TURKEY: BACKED INTO A CORNER?
The Turkish government has long suffered from a chronic siege mentality, believing itself to be surrounded by hostile forces that threaten its core interests. The formation of the EMGF appears to vindicate such concerns.

Turkey has little room for manoeuvre to its south and west, despite having the longest contiguous coastline in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara also believes that making concessions in this part of the sea would be tantamount to conceding to the Greek position on various maritime disputes between the two countries in the Aegean. Turkey’s difficulties are exacerbated by its failure to discover gas in its local waters. Given its own economic woes, Turkey will not cede the potentially lucrative exploitation rights around Cyprus without representation for Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has long favoured a model that allocates maritime rights based on continental shelves. But this differs from the approach adopted by European states, which is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), to which Turkey is not a signatory.

From Ankara’s perspective, there are clear links between this eastern Mediterranean coalition – as embodied by the EMGF – and wider regional conflicts, as well as the Emirati-led campaign against Turkey. Turkey believes that a slowly emerging superstructure of political, economic, and security interests will inevitably challenge its regional position. This has transformed an economic competition into an existential struggle. Turkey has responded in its traditional fashion – with escalation: namely, by increasing its military presence in Libya and concluding the maritime agreement with the Tripoli-based government. In parallel, Turkey has deployed naval expeditions to explore gas fields claimed by the Republic of Cyprus and to chase away research vessels operating under Republic of Cyprus licences.

NAVIGATING THE REGION’S CHOPPY WATERS
The EU’s current eastern Mediterranean policy centres on a ‘soft containment’ of Turkey, as marked by its introduction of new sanctions on the country in February 2020. These measures came at the request of Cyprus, Greece, France, and Italy in a bid to curtail Turkey’s predatory drilling expeditions. This dynamic was further highlighted in May 2020 in a joint declaration by Cyprus, France, Greece, Egypt, and the UAE, which “urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean … [and] strongly condemned Turkey’s military interference in Libya”. Turkey responded by accusing the states of forming an “alliance of evil” that would create “regional chaos and instability”.

Clearly, the EU is right to stick up for the sovereignty of the Cyprus and its maritime claims: the bloc’s non-recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is a pillar of its legal policy on the island. Nevertheless, the exclusionary approach towards Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean has contributed to escalation in Cyprus, as well as Libya, where European interests relating to migration and terrorism are directly under threat. This wider confrontation has also drawn the UAE more deeply into the Mediterranean theatre, a development that should be as much a cause for European concern as Turkey’s widening role. The threat of a confrontation with Turkey on Libya and wider eastern Mediterranean issues risks destabilising the long-standing refugee deal between Ankara and the EU. It could also weaken the EU position on Syria if, as has been mooted, some member states re-engage with Bashar al-Assad as a means of increasing pressure on Turkey, which maintains a military presence in northern Syria. More broadly, unless the pressure eases, this could further worsen Turkey’s relationship with the US, NATO, and the EU more generally.

There is no doubt that the EU needs a more functional relationship with Turkey to protect its core interests in migration, energy, and the Middle East. The EU should now adopt a different approach – one that recognises the need for more constructive engagement with Turkey, and that highlights their shared interests in trade, energy, and regional security. This does not have to involve a miraculous resolution of the Cyprus conflict – or, at the other end of the scale, a move towards the two-state solution supported by hawks in Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. But it might involve the recognition of some Turkish claims around the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the region’s energy spoils. And it should certainly include a rejection of active European participation in the destabilising regional conflict between Ankara and Abu Dhabi. The EU needs to carefully advance the following confidence-building steps that are in sync with core EU principles.

Cyprus
The highly contested, internationalised, and multilayered nature of problems in the eastern Mediterranean makes it impossible to address all sources of tension in one go. Instead, the EU should view the Cyprus conflict as the symbolic heart of the crisis and as a potential way to advance wider de-escalatory measures. While holding firm to its core principles, the EU should explore avenues for addressing technical issues related to gas exploitation. These are easier to engage with and resolve than more ideologically charged political questions around a final resolution of the conflict or maritime law. Besides allowing for meaningful headway on important issues, this approach would build much-needed confidence between the parties.

Firstly, European states should push the Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots towards technical-level discussions, with the goal of ensuring that all Cypriots can benefit from the island’s gas reserves – whether they live in the north or the south. Turkish Cypriots can be represented without needing to recognise the TRNC or legitimise the Turkish military presence on the island. As the EU and the UN already regard Turkish Cypriot leaders as interlocutors on intercommunal issues, they should bring them into discussions on hydrocarbons. This process could be underpinned by a moratorium on gas exploration in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, while Turkey would need to pull its drilling ships and navy out of the area.

Bring Turkey into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum
A wider agreement with Turkey would have to include Turkish access to the regional gas network, both in its current form and in future infrastructure developments. The current configuration of the EMGF as a conduit for political and security developments is aggravating regional tensions. For energy, security, and economic reasons, Europe and Turkey have similar imperatives to reach a deal with each other. The EU should propose Turkish access to the EMGF as an entry point to a wider deal. This would also help improve relations between Turkey and Egypt, and ease exploration and development tension between the EU and Turkey.

Linking up Libya
Enhanced European cooperation with Turkey on Libya is another necessary dimension of a more effective EU approach to the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s deal with the Libyan government has angered much of Europe. But Europe’s current response risks marginalising it in the region – and will only prolong the war in Libya, given Turkey’s centrality to any resolution there.

Europeans need to adopt an approach that not only presses Turkey to take a seat at the negotiating table but also provides it with incentives to do so. Europe should simultaneously ask the same of Haftar’s external backers, who in many ways bear greater responsibility than Turkey for the recent escalation in Libya.

The EU should use the assets of its recently deployed naval operation and the opening created by Tripoli’s Turkish-backed military gains to press the UAE to agree to a ceasefire and meaningful political talks. Europe should express frustration with not only Ankara but also Abu Dhabi for its role in escalating the regional conflict. This step would help convince Turkey that the EU is not singling it out. A balanced European approach to Libya, including an impartial attempt to monitor arms-embargo violations, would help persuade Turkey that the southern Mediterranean is not turning into another arena to exclude Turkish influence.

Progress on wider maritime talks would also help advance this effort, given that Turkey’s position in Libya is partly driven by concerns that other actors are looking to squeeze it out in the Mediterranean.

The EU can take steps to ease deepening eastern Mediterranean tensions in accordance with European interests. It should adopt a broad-based approach that recognises and seeks to reconcile the complex linkages that now criss-cross the eastern Mediterranean. The EU has the capacity to ensure that the accumulated benefit of a wider deal prevents backsliding elsewhere. Ultimately, a wider EU approach would aim to turn the current situation on its head, taking advantage of the highly interconnected nature of the issues and of shared interests to create a mutually acceptable stabilising track. The depth of the problems means that no single, all-encompassing bargain is possible. But Europeans could stitch together a patchwork of more self-contained deals as they work towards establishing a ‘new bargain’ with Turkey.

Given the potential for instability in the eastern Mediterranean to affect core EU interests – migration, counter-terrorism, energy security, sovereignty, and more – European states not directly involved in the overlapping conflicts should help improve the relationship with Turkey.

Countries such as Germany have highlighted how they could work to support the political process in Libya. Berlin has already provided a neutral forum for all states to try to agree on core principles. But so far it has failed, partly because of a lack of European consensus on broader eastern Mediterranean issues and relations with Turkey. This was demonstrated most recently by Turkey’s recent pressure on Malta to withdraw its support from the EU’s Mediterranean mission, Operation IRINI. As is so often the case, a lack of unity is fatally undermining Europe’s attempts to become a relevant actor, and is creating further space for other actors beyond Turkey and the UAE – namely Russia – to fill the void.

 

This article taken from www.ecfr.eu

Visits: 353