Turkey’s direct military intervention in Libya has gone too far. Turkey is posing itself as having the upper hand in Libyan affairs. Ankara has not accepted the president of the lower house of the Libyan parliament in Tobruk, Aguila Saleh, as an alternative to Libyan national army commander Khalifa Haftar in political negotiations in Libya, a senior Turkish official said in a special statement to the Sputnik news agency.
The statement was made during the visit of a Turkish delegation including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan. An odd statement was made by Cavusoglu during the visit.
The commander of the Libyan National Army, Marshal Khalifa Haftar, “has no legitimacy in Libya and should not sit at the negotiating table,” he said. “Haftar has no authority, and virtually no legitimacy,” he argued.
“A putschist like Haftar who wants to assume control of the country and power, instead of a ceasefire, should not be a party at the negotiating table, and should not be addressed,” he continued.
The provocative remarks clearly raise some questions. The first concerns the Qatari media and other supporters of the Turkish intervention in Libya, who are sympathizers and supporters of the terrorist group.
What would you do if an Arab official went to Benghazi and spoke in these terms about the Sarraj government and denied any role it could play in resolving the Libyan crisis?
So would it be fair or sensible for a state official to talk about the future of another sovereign state and a UN member in such a way that defies international law and the will of the Arab countries, including the sovereign Libyan people?
Other questions are raised for the so-called government of entente, which has stripped away patriotism and Arabism and subsumed itself completely in self-interest, leaving the Turks the right to speak on its behalf and to control Libya’s fate under the guise of a shady alliance that only serves the interests of Sultan Erdogan and his international terrorist organization.
In fact, the Sarraj government is no longer loyal to the interests of the Libyan people, especially since the Turkish foreign minister admitted that work on military agreements and memorandums of understanding on gas and oil exploration is in full swing, apparently as part of an opportunistic give-and-take whereby the Turks receive the wealth of the Libyan people in exchange for military support for Sarraj.
Moreover, Sarraj has even ceded the right to speak on behalf of its so-called government about the basis of legitimacy in Libya and who has and who does not. When the Turkish Foreign Minister becomes the party that grants and takes away political legitimacy in Libya, that is a big joke, albeit one that deserves a firm position.
There is every reason to believe that Libya is spiraling into a new breeding ground for Turkish-sponsored terrorism. Legitimacy comes from the people, not from the ambitious and colonialists, who dream of past glories.
Although the main culprit is the lack of an Arab role against Turkey’s provocative rhetoric about Libya, the major powers are also responsible for Sultan Erdogan’s regional stranglehold. The global collective is following Turkey’s violations of Security Council resolutions banning the export of arms to Libya without any reaction, if only with empty words and flat statements.
EU condemnations no longer deter Turkey from going ahead with its malevolent plans, including seizing Libya’s oil assets or at least creating a reality on the ground that guarantees Turkey a large share in shared interests and influence in this Arab country.
There has been no response from the Security Council, which has adopted resolutions prohibiting arms supplies to the parties to the Libyan conflict, or from the Berlin Conference group countries, which have undertaken to oversee compliance with the arms embargoes on Libya but have not agreed on a specific mechanism or operational programs to put those conclusions into action.
For some, the silence of the international community on Erdogan’s plan for Libya is no fluke. Perhaps the great powers are giving the sultan a free hand to muddy the waters and create an arena for dividing the wealth of this Arab country with others down the road. Those who question this scenario find nothing to argue with.
There is a suspicious international silence about Turkey’s role in Syria, Libya, and finally Iraq. Turkey is not a superpower so that some can say that it scares everyone, moves abroad, occupies other countries’ territory, and imposes a colonial reality on the ground.
Are there secret agreements and understandings about Turkey’s role? Or is it just that the world’s major powers are busy fighting the coronavirus epidemic so that everyone is unable to curb the greed of this reckless sultan?
In this complex landscape, the bet is on the unswerving Libyan people to drive out traitors, kick out collaborators and terrorists, regain control of Libyan territory and restore their country’s wealth. The bet is a hard and demanding one. But nothing is impossible for the children of Omar Mokhtar.
By Dr. Salem Al Ketbi, the UAE writer and analyst.