FILE PHOTO: A destroyed and burnt tank that belonged to the Libyan National Army (LNA), is seen in Gharyan south of Tripoli Libya June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny/File Photo
CAIRO – 24 May 2020: Amid the escalation of fighting among warring parties in Libya throughout the past week, Writer and Regional Affairs Journalist Hend al-Dawy explained in a lecture hosted by a Saudi think-tank the situation.
After the assassination of late Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi, the intervention of Turkey in the North African state has intensified. Beforehand, Turkey had many economic agreements with Gaddafi's regime. Hence, it refrained from intervening in the country when the civil war had first broken out, Dawy explains.
Qatar used to fund Libya's militias but now they are mainly controlled by Turkey, which is trying to make up for its losses in Egypt and Syria, the expert highlighted.
Turkey has three goals in Libya. The first is avenging the fall of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013 and that took place for only one year. That has influenced the order's affiliates in North Africa and Syria as Turkey has been attempting to take over northern Syria.
The second is taking Libya as hostage in order to pressure Egypt so it would be part of the East Med Gas Forum headquartered in Cairo. The forum encompasses Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestinian Authority.
It is noted that in 2014 Egypt, Cyprus and Greece signed a demarcation agreement of marine borders whose main purpose was drilling for gas. Turkey has been impeding drilling in Cypriot waters claiming it has shares in the gas fields, although it had not signed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The third goal is getting rid of the 100,000 militants backed by Turkey in Idlib as not all of them are Syrians. They include Uighur and Europeans. France and Germany rejected the repatriation and prosecution of those.
The Libyan crisis is complicated because of the disagreements among France and Italy on the future of the North African state. The former supports the LNA while Italy backs the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is an interim non-elected government that is recognized by the United Nations, Dawy explained.
Furthermore, the EU is wary of Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar as he has begun using Russian mercenaries and weapons. Given that Libyan shores face south European ones in the Mediterranean, Russian intervention in the Libyan conflict is not cherished by the union, the journalist added. Turkey has also been blackmailing the EU with the refugees' issue.
The Russian intervention has also prompted the United States to support Turkish moves in Libya, particularly the occupation of Al Watiyah district housing Oqba bin Nafea airbase, Dawy said.
The expert doubts that the 6 Russian Pantsir S-1 (SA-22 Greyhound) air defense systems belonging to the LNA were destroyed by Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 armed drones highlighting that Turkey always moves after granted "Western support."
Militias have been trying to take over Tarhuna southern Tripoli, which is an LNA stronghold western Libya, and Al Jufrah southern Sirte as it has been used to provide supply to the LNA concentrations western Libya.
Egypt has been giving the LNA political support backing the concept of a nation state while Turkey has been backing political Islam across the Middle East, mainly extremist groups, the expert underlined.
The expert speculates that there will be a focus on the political solution, and the neutralization of the Turkish role in Libya by eliminating the factors worrying the West and reducing hostility against GNA's Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Afterwards, the LNA will be able to regain military balance in the country through the support of allies.
In a statement Sunday, the Arab League stressed the political solution as key to end the Libyan crisis.
The LNA declared Saturday the killing of 12 Syrian mercenaries, and the restoration of Yarmok military camp southern Tripoli.
Tripoli militias took over Oqba Bin Nafea Airbase located in Al Watiyah area western Libya from the LNA on Monday.
In April, LNA Spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmary stated that the militias had been attempting to take over the airbase as it can be the substitute of Mitiga Airbase if taken over by the Libyan Armed Forces that lie few kilometers from it.
In the same month, the LNA downed 60 Turkish drones piloted from Mitiga Airbase. In December, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey signed two MoUs on defense and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.
As a consequence, Turkey brought into Libya 15,000 Syrian mercenaries to fight in the ranks of militias protecting the Tripoli-based GNA.
Turkey also brought Turkish 1,500 military experts and officers to command the operations rooms of militias, which have been controlling only Tripoli and Misrata since the LNA restored Sirte in January.
Fighting has been ongoing as the LNA has been encircling both cities and advancing in their suburbs while militias have been targeting its concentrations.