Erdogan will not accept a new defeat in his last stronghold in North Africa, after losing the (Muslim) Brotherhood in Egypt, and finally “Al-Nahda” in Tunisia, the two important neighbors of Libya.
The participants in the ministerial meeting of Libya’s neighboring countries, which was held in Algeria on August 29-30, “reaffirmed the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya,” calling for “the removal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from it as soon as possible and the settlement of the Libyan crisis away from any military solutions, or foreign interference,” while appealing to the Libyan parties “to return to the political track under the auspices of the United Nations within the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”
The meeting, in which the foreign ministers of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Niger, Chad and Congo, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Libya Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and the Commissioner for Political, Peace and Security Bankoli Adewe of the African Union, during which the participants affirmed their “categorical rejection of terrorism and violence, whatever its form and source, and the need for coordination and cooperation in order to address all threats to the security and stability of Libya and the countries of the region, and their support for efforts and initiatives aimed at finding a solution to this crisis through the outcomes of the Berlin Conference, in a manner that preserves Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, meets the aspirations of its people and ensures the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections as scheduled at the end of this year.
Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra, in turn, stressed “the need to expel all foreign forces and mercenaries as soon as possible from Libyan territory, and to continue efforts to complete the unification of state institutions and achieve national reconciliation within the framework of settling the crisis in Libya, expressing “his country’s rejection of the plans of some foreign powers aimed to serve its own agendas at the expense of the strategic interests of Libya and its neighbors.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in Tunisia, the neighboring country of Libya, Othman Al-Jarandi, stressed, in turn, “the necessity of setting a clear, well-thought-out and tight timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya, so that terrorist organizations do not exploit it to spread more chaos and violence.”
The Tunisian and Algerian positions gained additional importance, firstly because of the apathy and tension between Tunisia and Libya, and secondly because of the crisis between Algeria and Morocco, and also because of the relationship of both events to regional balances. The Prime Minister of the Libyan Interim Government of Unity, Abdel Hamid Dabaiba, who is affiliated with Ankara, responded to Tunisian accusations that “terrorism originates from Libya,” and said: “Some neighboring countries accused us of being terrorists… But the ten thousand terrorists who entered our country, where did they come from? You brought them to us… Terrorism came to us from abroad, especially from some neighboring countries.”
Dabaiba hinted that “the official authorities in Tunisia have adopted the accusations against the Libyan state,” and said, “I sent a large delegation to Tunisia to understand how we were accused of terrorism.” He continued, “If the state of Tunisia wants to build real and honest relations with us, then the neighboring countries must be respected. We have become astute about international games, and we cannot accept the repetition of previous scenes, and we cannot accept that the Libyans are laughed at again.”
The Council of the Union of Libyan Tribes affirmed in a statement, “the importance of brotherly ties between the Libyan and Tunisian peoples,” and stressed that “these eternal bonds and historical glories are purer than being distorted by blaring trumpets and stronger than being cut off by dark bats, heretical movements and extremism.”
In its statement, the union indicated that “The terrorism that Libya and Tunisia are subjected to is supported by Turkey, which sends planes loaded with mercenaries and terrorists, and in the eyes and ears of the international community, as Turkey is recruiting a group of agents who have sold out and abandoned their honor to destabilize the security and stability of our two countries, Libya and Tunisia.”
The tension between Morocco and Algeria also cast a shadow, albeit indirectly, on the activities of the ministerial meeting, with the information that previously talked about Ankara’s support for the Moroccan position and selling Morocco drones, which is what Israel, which signed the normalization agreements with Rabat, seeks.
The information also talked about similar efforts from Ankara to sell Addis Ababa drones, which President Erdogan was proud of yesterday, and said about it, “It achieved great victories in Karabakh and Libya,” which reflects the extent of the importance Erdogan attaches to the Turkish role in Libya, where the naval, air and land bases established by Ankara there, after the agreement it signed with the Government of National Accord on November 27, 2019.
This contributed to breaking the siege on Tripoli and expelling Khalifa Haftar’s forces from large areas in western Libya, and even Sirte, at a time when information talks about intertwined, wide and complex relations between the various Turkish state agencies and the various factions and political and armed forces that support Prime Minister Dabaiba, and he, with those around him owns large investments in Turkey, Erdogan has confirmed on more than one occasion, “that it will not withdraw from Libya, which has a million Ottoman Turkish assets,” he said.
Many see President Erdogan’s statements as clear proof of his desire to keep Turkish forces in Libya, along with about 8,000 mercenaries it brought from Syria who played an important role in the victories achieved by the factions in the summer of 2020.
In her assessment of the work of the ministerial forum, Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Al-Manqoush indicated that “Libya’s vision to achieve stability consists of two important tracks, namely the military and security track and the economic track.” She added, “The security and military track is the biggest challenge facing Libya with the approaching date of the general national elections on December 24, which requires, with the support of Libya’s partners and allies, to work on unifying the Libyan army under one command, integrating armed groups and qualifying them for security or for civilian, as well as the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, whose continued presence poses a threat, not only to Libya, but to the entire region as well.
Everyone’s talk about the necessity of removing foreign forces, which means Turkey, and therefore mercenaries of various nationalities, will not be enough to achieve this goal before the elections. It has become clear that it will not take place on schedule, due to the complexities of the Libyan internal situation, and caused by contradictory regional and international balances, which may gain clarity with the possible results of Turkish reconciliation with Egypt and the UAE, and through Qatari mediation, which may convince the four parties to agree on the minimum common denominators for a final solution in Libya, at a time when everyone knows that President Erdogan will not accept a new defeat in his last stronghold in North Africa, after losing the (Muslim) Brotherhood in Egypt, and finally “Al-Nahda” in Tunisia, the two important neighbors of Libya.
Erdogan has set many ideological, political, military, security, economic, and financial calculations for it, which he will not abandon and leave it to others, foremost among them the traditional enemy Egypt unless Washington and other European capitals guarantee him his interests, not only here, but in other regions as well, the most important of which is Syria, and soon Afghanistan!