Libya: conflict between Turkey & Egypt grows / News / News agency Inforos
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Libya: conflict between Turkey & Egypt grows

Turkey and Egypt have prepared for an armed confrontation in North Africa

Libya: conflict between Turkey & Egypt grows

On July 20, 2020, the Egyptian Parliament gave its consent to President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the deployment of armed forces outside the state border "to fight criminal militias and foreign terrorists in the strategic western direction".

The decision was made in compliance with the national Constitution by a majority of delegates. The same day, the President chaired a meeting of the National Defense Council of Egypt involving the head of government, security ministers, the President of Parliament and armed forces commanders. Those engaged got acquainted with the situation in and around Libya and discussed decisions by the military and political leadership as regards ensuring safety of the country's Western borders.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi informed the Council members about the outcome of his July 19 telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump, who agreed with the Egyptian leader in assessing the situation in Libya and advocated the priority use of peaceful means to reduce tension in this country. The head of the White House made his Egyptian counterpart aware of his telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, who adamantly opposed to Turkey's interference in the internal affairs of Libya.

In turn, the Turkish leadership is vibrantly preparing for an eastward offensive by units of Fayez al-Sarraj's Libyan Government of National Accord. According to head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdul Rahman, the Turks are actively making use of the al-Watiya air base to deliver weapons and ammunition. Over the last few days, military transport aircraft from the Turkish Gaziantep air base have brought multiple rocket launchers that are already deployed several dozen kilometers to the west and south of Sirte.

The GNA military leadership keeps concentrating detachments of Libyan fighters and foreign mercenaries around Sirte and the al-Jufra air base, bringing artillery, armored vehicles and other weapons there.

On July 19, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held talks in Ankara with Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, who is also acting GNA Defense Minister. The parties clarified their plans for the upcoming military operation in eastern Libya.

Hulusi Akar had a telephone conversation with his Qatar colleague.

The same day, the Turkish Defense Ministry head met with a Russian delegation in Ankara. According to the Asharq al-Awsat Arab regional outlet, the Russian side sought to step up Turkey's mediation efforts in order to free from captivity in Libya two Russian citizens who were arrested in May 2019 on suspicion of espionage. Russian Charge D'affaires in Libya Jamshed Boltaev engaged in the talks, said the Tripoli authorities provided no information on the release of the Russians.

In turn, the Libyan Government of National Accord's official representative explained that Turkey wanted Russia to enter an agreement on its complete military withdrawal from Libya, pledging the release of two Russians in exchange. Ankara is allegedly ready to provide Moscow with firm guarantees on granting sweeping privileges for Russian businesses and their capitals' engagement in the economy of Libya. But should we trust the Turks?

Chairman of the Turkish ruling party Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was also present at the meeting, stressed the frankness and directness of the dialogue with the Russian delegation. The Russians were told: if we cooperate with you in Syria, don't shoot at us in Libya; without that, sit down and talk to Egypt, he said.

"For Turkey, confrontation with Egypt is mediocre. It's not hard to guess that the Arab Republic of Egypt or another state wants us to leave Libya. Therefore, the Turkish dominance needs using forcible methods," Davutoğlu added referring to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's opinion.

The official representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Ibrahim Kalin, speaking on national television following a series of negotiations, explained the leadership's position towards Libya. "We are not the reason for the escalation in Libya. We have no plans or intentions of confronting with any country there. Fayez al-Sarraj's GNA has a right of protection, and Turkey will keep assisting this government," Kalin said.

Thus, Turkey and Egypt are strenuously preparing for an armed confrontation in North Africa and completing military preparations to achieve their geopolitical interests. Egypt has once again warned Turkey about the possible consequences it may face in case of an outbreak of hostilities, and conducted a firing drill from Russian-made anti-ship missile systems deployed next to the coastal city of Tobruk.

As for Russian-Turkish ties, the situation with Russian citizens arrested in Libya and Ankara's position on this issue are yet another demonstration of the country's leadership's flawed policy. Perhaps there is nothing more sinister than bargaining for privileges in exchange for human lives.

One should hardly believe the words of Turkish politicians about their cooperation with the Russians in Syria. Ankara failed to fulfill any of its obligations. Russia is patiently watching Turkey's unbridled appetite in various parts of the Middle East and Africa. Moscow benefits from the Turkish "squandering" of fighters from Syria and the softening of resistance in the north-west of this country.

Even the Americans seem to have become tired of the Ottoman Empire descendants' arrogance, and the White House does not rebuke them, hoping that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will manage to put Recep Erdogan in his proper place in Libya. The Turks should not bet on Washington's support in clashes with the Egyptian army, so Ankara will likely attempt to minimize its direct participation in combat missions, using militant groups as "cannon fodder".

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