The efforts of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to drive war-torn Libya deeper into conflict could result in a humanitarian disaster that would trigger a string of adverse geopolitical and geo-economic tensions across the European Union and Middle East, wrote Mikael Virtanen, a Helsinki-based entrepreneur with a focus on crisis management.
Threatened by Turkey’s exclusion from the Israel-Cyprus-Greece undersea gas pipeline project, Erdoğan turned to oil-rich Libya to secure his own source of cheap foreign energy for Turkey, Virtanen wrote in the Jewish News Syndicate.
Ankara and Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a maritime agreement in November to establish an exclusive economic zone to legitimise Turkey’s claims to offshore gas and oil in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The deal creates a sea corridor between the two nations, which cuts through a zone claimed by Greece, and Egypt, who are collaborating on gas drilling and transportation in the area, and reigniting an ongoing territorial dispute between Turkey and a conglomerate of eastern Mediterranean countries.
As Turkish troops and the GNA forces gear up for a major offensive, Erdoğan, working through proxies in Turkish Petroleum, may soon gain direct control over Libya’s oil production and distribution network, Virtanen wrote.
Turkey in recent months has increased military support for the GNA, allowing the group to reverse a 14-month assault on capital Tripoli by forces loyal to the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) General Khalifa Haftar, backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
There is concern among EU stakeholders in the Mediterranean, the analyst said, that Turkey’s intervention in the North African country could trigger a second wave of migration into Europe.
As the country’s civil war intensifies, more than 48,000 refugees and 635,000 migrants have been packed into overcrowded detention centres across Libya, the article said.
Another 1.3 million Libyans are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.
Another threat posed by Erdoğan’s efforts to form a Turkish proxy state in Libya is the legitimisation and expansion of the political cachet of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the largest political organisations in the GNA-led Libya, it said.
“By gifting the Muslim Brotherhood a seat of power in the Maghreb, Erdoğan will further aggravate region-wide sectarian tensions, exacerbating already fragile socio-political situations in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Egypt,’’ Virtanen wrote.