Erdoğan wants partitioned Libya dependent on Turkey - columnist

Turkey’s foreign policy in Libya is a calculated strategy to gain another foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, similar to the breakaway northern Cyprus, columnist Nervana Mahmoud wrote for Arabic news outlet Al Hurra.

Part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans for Libya is “a separate entity in Western Libya that is fully dependent on Turkey for its survival,” Mahmoud’s article said, similar to the northern third of Cyprus under Turkish control.

The Mediterranean island, split between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus following Turkey’s military intervention in 1974, faces political and military paralysis, and is in a permanent state of “no war/no peace,” according to the article.

Unlike in Cyprus, Erdoğan is popular with Islamists and Libyans of Turkish descent, and there is a “growing, misplaced nostalgia towards the bygone era of Ottoman-controlled Libya,” that the pro-Erdoğan groups in the country “aggressively encourage,” it said.

But for a similar scenario to play out in the north African country, Western and Arab parties would need to fail to prevent the emergence and survival of a pro-Turkish entity in Western Libya, it added.

In a strategic move to outmanoeuvre a consortium of countries seeking to stake their own claims to Mediterranean hydrocarbon deposits, last year Turkey made two deals with the Tripoli-based, U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), redefining Turkey’s maritime borders and providing Turkish military support for the GNA’s fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Erdoğan also wants to stop the LNA’s advance towards Tripoli and “is determined to block any political agreement that aims to disarm his loyal militias in Western Libya or return them back to Syria,” the article said.

Turkey, as part of its efforts to support the GNA, has sent more than 4,000 Syrian fighters, many involved with jihadist and extremist groups.

“No rational country will commit to sending UN peacekeeping forces that have a mandate to disarm hard-core Islamist militants embedded in Libya,” it said, and a ceasefire without a political settlement will lead to the inevitable partition of Libya, giving Erdoğan’s policy “a good chance of succeeding.”