Former Turkish Foreign Minister: Ankara’s Involvement in Libya “Unguaranteed Game”

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Turkey’s former Foreign Minister, Yasir Yakis, stated that Ankara appears to be playing an “unguaranteed game” that encompasses both Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

He added that Turkey supporting the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) does not mean that success is guaranteed, as the situation remains volatile.

Yakis claimed that one of the reasons for Turkey’s support of the GNA is that it is composed mainly of Muslim Brotherhood influenced members.

He confirmed that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been strongly inspired by the Brotherhood’s practices, so there is strong solidarity between it and the Tripoli-based government.

Yakis also addressed the two MoU’s Turkey signed in November 2019 with the GNA. The first was the delineation of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between Turkey and Libya.

He stated that Ankara justified this act under the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which authorizes states with opposite or adjacent coastlines to delineate their EEZs.

Yakis added that the bilateral agreement clashed with the basic parameters of the EEZs between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.

Their partition does not allow Turkey an EEZ, except within its territorial waters, despite it having the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Libyan-Turkish partition would allow Egypt and Israel to gain additional EEZs from Cyprus.

He pointed out that the second agreement was based on military cooperation between Turkey and the GNA. This agreement is meant to save the latter from collapse, due to attacks by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Turkey also continues to send Syrian fighters to fight on behalf of the GNA in Libya. This is to help ensure Turkey’s interests prevail in Libya.

Alarmed by this move, the European Union announced a naval operation in the Mediterranean, called Operation ‘IRINI’, aimed at implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Turkey’s military arrangement with Libya may also provide it with other benefits if the crisis is resolved in its favor.

This would entail having a bigger say in the country’s future, a share of the country’s oil wealth, and favouring Turkish companies for reconstruction contracts in post-war Libya.