Turkey and Libyan Crisis

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Turkey and Libyan Crisis

Two Main Rival Factions

Like most of the Arab nations in Arab Spring of 2011, protests also broke out in Libya, a geopolitically important state in the international arena because of its richest oil reserves in the North Africa. Eventually these protests led to a civil war and the death of the leader, Muammar Gaddafi by NATO airstrikes but it was not the end. After the death Muammar Gaddafi, violence escalated again and the second civil war erupted in 2014 because of the proliferation of armed groups in the country. The second civil war is mainly among two rival factions; Marshal Khalifa Haftar who was appointed by the parliament of Libya, House of Representatives in 2014 with only an 18% turnout and relocated to Tobruk and the Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, the leader of Government of National Accord based in Tripoli, the capital of Libya which officially recognized by the UN as Libya’s legitimate government. In addition, both of the factions have foreign supports like; Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and France support the House of Representatives and the United Nations, Western powers including the United States but mainly Turkey, Qatar and Italy support the Government of National Accord. On the other hand, these instabilities resulted in the collapse of the state’s economy and oil industry.

Turkey and Second Civil War of Libya

Foreign powers intervened in Libyan civil war because of their strategies and economic concerns and interests and flooded this country with weapons and drones in spite of UN arms embargo. Turkey, as a foreign power in this conflict has also its own ideological and political reasons to support the Government of National Accord to increase its political and economic dominance in the region. One of the main ideological reasons is that this faction is related to the Muslim Brotherhood because in the past Turkey reportedly supported a Libyan Islamist group named the Justice and Construction Party with close ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, to gain a foothold in the GNA which opposes a threat to other Arab countries such as Egypt and UAE. In addition, as Mediterranean Sea is geopolitically important for the regional states, by signing a Maritime Boundary Treaty with GNA, Turkey established an exclusive economic zone in Mediterranean Sea which enables this country to claim rights to ocean bed resources which contain vast gas reserves. According to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in an interview with local broadcaster 24 TV, Turkey signed this agreement to preserve the rights of Turkish Cypriots and to protect its interests in the continental shelf, while the legitimacy of this agreement have been disputed by a number of states including European Union, Cyprus, Egypt and Greece because it does not comply with the Law of the Sea and it violates the rights of third states.

Unfortunately, in spite of several diplomatic meetings and agreements on cease fire and truce among the two rival factions of the Libyan conflict and the foreign powers, the conflict has not been de-escalated enough.

This article written by Aida Farrokhpour

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