by Abbas Jouma expert on Middle East #Erdogan twitter@gaiaitaliacom #EnglishNews
For more than six months the world’s leading media, politicians, and experts have been watching the events in Libya. Another conflict risks escalating into a new international scuffle, similar to what has been happening in Syria for years. Moreover, with the filing of Ankara, pro-Turkish militants from the Syrian provinces have already appeared at the Libyan theater of war.
Again, the interests of leading world and regional powers clashed: Russia, the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar. True, unlike Syria, in Libya there is no single authority. And this seriously complicates the situation.
What happened in Libya
In July 2012, the General National Congress (GNC) was established in Libya. A key role was played by the Muslim Brotherhood organization. In 2014, the Libyan House of Representatives (better known as the Tobruk Government) appeared. Members of the organization are located in the northeastern city of Tobruk. They are protected by the National Army (LNA), led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar. He is one of the main opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region and one of the most famous fighters against terrorism. Since March 3, 2015 he is also the supreme commander of the Armed forces of Libya. In early April last year, Haftar launched an attack on the capital of Tripoli, which continues to this day with varying success.
There is another power – the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. Despite the fact that the “Eastern Government” controls most of the country, the GNA is supported by UN Security Council, the West and the Turks. The latter is particularly important. Since recently Ankara has made a formal decision to intervene in hostilities and help Tripoli repel the attack of Khalifa Haftar. The Turkish authorities had previously acted – they sent mercenaries to Libya, supplied weapons and military equipment to local militants. But now, Turkish troops and the gang formations, supported by them from Syria, are sent to help Sarraj.
Thus, the head of the GNA not only signed an agreement with an ally state, but concluded a deal with a number of terrorist groups, banned both in Libya and Turkey.
Even Erdogan’s supporters began to realize that the Turkish president and his Justice and Development Party led the country into a dead end. His domestic political successes (constitutional reform and election as president) are due solely to militaristic rhetoric and tactics of small victorious wars in neighboring Syria. However, after several years, it became apparent that Turkey’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict did not bring any results. Moreover, flirting Ankara with terrorists seriously complicated the security situation both in Syria and inside Turkey itself.
The migration crisis provoked by the actions of the Turkish authorities has become the country’s main problem in recent years.
The logical result of such a short-sighted policy was the defeat of the ruling party in local elections. The Justice and Development Party lost in all major cities of the country. But the most painful was the outcome of the elections in Istanbul, where Ekrem Imamoğlu, a candidate from the opposition People’s Republican Party, was elected mayor.
The country’s economy has been in a deep crisis for a year. Authorities have created an unprecedented atmosphere of fear. And this affected the foreign policy of Turkey.
Driven by personal ambitions, Erdogan quarreled with almost all partners: Washington, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Moscow (especially after the Su-24 was brought down). Despite endless foreign visits (the Turkish leader visited Russia 5 times during the year), as well as joint projects (for example, the purchase of S-400), Ankara remains a very difficult negotiator. And in Syria, it’s an opponent and a security threat. So, from the territory of Idlib they regularly attack Russian base in Latakia. It’s no secret that in this Syrian province there are Turkish observation posts and Turkish-controlled militants, with whom Ankara not only does not fight, but in every way strengthens and oversees. It was under the Turkish protectorate in Idlib that the pro-Saudi militants were liquidated, and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group flourished (the former Al Nusra – aka Al Qaeda in Syria).
According to experts, if Erdogan continues to act like this, he could lose the presidential election in 2023. Despite the fact that in 2018 he won by a very small margin, gaining about 53% of the vote.
And in this sense, the Libyan adventure of the Turkish leader does not add optimism. Leaving Syria in a state of terror chaos, he turned his attention to a much more neglected state. Libya may become for Ankara the same as Crimea for Moscow in terms of international reaction. The only difference is that Crimea returned to Russia without a single shot and on the initiative of the Crimeans. But Tripoli will drag Turkey into a full-scale war with casualties among Turkish troops. In addition, in Tripoli there is an illegitimate government that does not have the right to conclude international treaty.
On the eve of the presidential election, this will become a serious trump card in the sleeve of Erdogan’s domestic political rivals. Libya will be actively used to discredit the current leadership of Turkey. And it will be much more effective than in the case of Syria, the presence in which Ankara justifies the fight against the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Why GNA does not represent interests of Libya
In view of the above, the Libyan parliament in the east of the country voted to completely break off relations with Turkey (closing the Turkish embassy, closing all border points). Fayez Sarraj, Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashagha and Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala were accused of treason.
In addition, Libyan parliament also called on the UN Security Council, the League of Arab States and the European Union to withdraw recognition of the GNA.
They have a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, the government of national accord was created in early 2016 in accordance with the so-called “Skhirat Agreement”. The document was signed by all by representatives of the main Libyan factions on December 17, 2015 in Morocco.
According to the agreement, the GNA was created as an organization that exists before the elections in the country and the adoption of the constitution. However, the elections were not held. And there is still no constitution. Moreover, the mandate of the GNA is one year before the adoption of the constitution. And then another year, if the constitution is not adopted. Thus, since the beginning of 2018, the GNA has lost its legitimacy, and Sarraj has no right to speak on behalf of the Libyan people.
One of the key provisions of the Skhirat Agreement for the transition period: the entire legislative branch belongs to the House of Representatives, led by Aguila Saleh. The Libyan Political Agreement affirmed the powers of the House of Representatives. For example, without its approval, the GNA has no right to conclude a single international treaty. However, the GNA acts independently and does not agree on anything. In general, it can be called treason.
The GNA did not agree on any candidacy for such key posts as the Chairmen of the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Fund and National Oil Corporation, contrary to the Skhirat agreements. Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Company, is under criticism for apparently representing only the interests of Turkey and not Libyan people.
The most important thing
According to the Skhirat Agreement, Libyan authorities are required to fight terrorists. But the GNA is actively cooperating with them. Militants occupy high posts (for example, Ministry of Internal Affairs). The GNA officially works with people who are under UN sanctions. We are talking about terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in Libya together with international terrorist organizations.
One of them is Mohamed Salim Bahrun, a senior lieutenant in the Libyan Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was found to be in contact with the ISIS. It became known about him after the incident with the downed aircraft. The pilot survived and was taken to the department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to Bahrun, who, along with friends, immediately began to mock the prisoner, shooting all the humiliation on camera.
Bahrun was immediately recognized. Photos of the arrest warrant issued by the prosecutor of Sabrat were published on the internet.
But the most famous paramilitary organization that is part of the GNA is the RADA group. They control private prisons in which abducted people are imprisoned. Including foreigners. It is known that regular torture is carried out there, prisoners are starved, killed and sold into slavery.
The same bandits oversee the business of transporting illegal migrants from Africa to Europe.
Sarraj knows this. All Libya knows. This is not a secret, but materials from open sources. However, the GNA is not able to control the situation. This fact proves once again its illegitimacy.
(10th January, 2020)
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