President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the way on December 26 for direct
military intervention in Libya: he announced a parliamentary vote in early
January on sending troops to support the UN-backed Tripoli government against
General Khalifa Haftar. Instructors, equipment and Turkish special forces are
already operating in Libya alongside pro-government militias. Erdogan said that
Turkey would also be willing to send aerial and naval assistance if
circumstances require it.
Turkish troops will complicate the situation in an already fragile country,
torn by internal dissent since the ouster and killing of the dictator Muammar
Gaddafi in 2011.
The map of
foreign intervention in Libya is important: In the east of the country, forces
from Saudi Arabia and Egypt support Gen. Haftar, the separatist who heads the
Libyan National Army -- not the country's national army. Arrayed against them
are Turkey and Qatar, supporting the recognized government headed by Fayez
al-Sarraj, but his government is not supported by the legislature. Then there
is Russia. It has dispatched militia forces known as the Wagner Group, which
have already carried out operations in Syria, are also operating in several
African countries -- supporting and assisting Haftar's forces. France has
joined the group of countries that support the rebel general, while Italy backs
Sarraj's recognized government.
As it has
done in Syria, the United States has so far refrained from any intervention.
Instead, the US has clung to the position of an outside observer, ready to
offer advice and diplomatic assistance to resolve the Libyan crisis. Turkey,
which signed a military and economic accord with the Libyan government in
November, could deprive Greece and the Greek Cypriots of large swaths of their
oil and gas exploration areas and force Egypt and Israel to negotiate with
Turkey over the construction of natural gas pipelines to Europe.
now one of the main axes of future ISIS operations, to compensate for the loss
of ground in Syria. ISIS in Libya finances its activities through robbery,
kidnapping for ransom, extorting Libyan citizens and cross-border smuggling of
artifacts and other commodities.
Tunisian daily newspaper Al-Chourouk cited statements by Ahmad al-Mesmari, a
spokesman for East Libya-based forces, claiming that there were "open
lines" to provide weapons and fighters from Turkey and Malta to the
Tripoli-based government. The Turkish ambassador to Tunisia, Omer Faruk Dogan,
has denied the claim.
that the Libyan crisis has had on neighbours is far reaching and significant.
Egypt, a major recipient of US military and economic assistance, can ill afford
a spill over of insecurity from Libya. In addition, the movement of migrants
through Africa to Egypt and Libya and on to Europe is a major concern for
countries in the southern Mediterranean. Tunisians make up one of the largest
groups of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, and insecurity in Libya offers a
safe haven for extremists who could seek to foment radicalization in
neighbouring Tunisia. The threat posed by extremists in Libya and Tunisia is
not one that Europeans can ignore, as evidenced by the attack on British
tourists in Sousse and the more recent attack by the Tunisian, Anis Amri, in
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Headline: Libya's Political Instability Makes Room for ISIS to Regroup
Source: The Gatestone Institute