Turkey announced that it could send troops to Libya if the Government of the National Accord (GNA) requests some help. In the meantime, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday pointed to Russian military contractors currently in the war-torn country.
Libya’s GNA Chief Fayez Al Sarraj said last week that his government plans to confront Russia over the private mercenaries with a list of up to 800 Russian fighters supporting its strongman opponent.
Last month, Libya and its key ally Turkey last month signed an expanded security and military cooperation agreement, as well as a deal to drill natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Speaking of sending troops, you know there’s a security company from Russia called Wagner” in Libya, Erdogan said Tuesday.
Wagner is a private military company linked to President Vladimir Putin through business magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin. Russia has sent more than 1,000 mercenaries to Libya overall in the past three months, according to The New York Times.
Libya, Like Syria, a Proxy Conflict
On its part, Russia said it was very concerned by the prospect of Turkey sending troops to Libya, adding that the deal on military cooperation between Ankara and Tripoli raised many questions for Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency.
The question now is about the sudden interest of Ankara in Libya. Does Erdogan care about the security of Libyans? The answer is definitely no.
Is it related to the Russian growing control in many parts eastern Syria? The answer is: may be yes.
On Friday, Syrian media report advances by the Syrian army against terrorist stronghold. The Syrian army attacked on land, Russian ships fired rockets from the sea, and Russian planes struck from the sky.
Only a week ago, at a press conference in Washington, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the need to completely free Idlib by taking it back for the Syrian government. He also complained of Turkey’s inability to identify and separate the armed opposition from Al Nusra terrorists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan are scheduled to meet on Jan. 8 to discuss several topics; most notably Libya and Syria.
The talks may include some bargains between Moscow and Ankara. For example, Putin gives up on Libya’s gas and oil wells for Erdogan in exchange for a Turkish retreat from eastern Syria.
Libya and Syria have become lands of proxy wars for Moscow which seeks revival of a new Soviet Union and Ankara which seeks a smell of old age of the Ottoman Empire.
The goals are different but the cost is alike.
Syria has to return home and its seat at the Arab League must be refilled by its legitimate government representative. The Syrian regime should open channels of dialogue with Arab countries to restore relations and reassure its nationals abroad so they can return back to their homes inside the country.
The more Haftar Seizes, Turkey Loses Money
In the other side of the world, Libyans have to be united behind their national army under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar and work together to get rid of terrorist groups and mercenaries tearing the country apart.
Libya is a country rich in oil and gas reserves that borders important Mediterranean trade routes. The country’s destabilization aroused the avarice of various international players, including the Turkish government.
A lot of Turkish companies were already active in Libya under Libyan Moammar Ghaddafi. Among other things, Turkish companies were also involved in numerous lucrative construction projects in Libya. Precise figures aren’t available, but the volume of investment is believed to have totaled several billion US dollars.
When the conflict with Haftar broke out, many of these construction projects were put on ice, and Turkish companies working in Libya lost a great deal of money as a result. The more areas Haftar seizes from GNA, the smaller the chances the companies will see their money again.
Turkey also supported Libyan groups close to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in the civil war that led to the fall of Ghaddafi.