German Deutsche Welle Says Turkey Interferes in Libya to Support its Faltering Economy

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According to a report published by Germany’s Deutsche Welle on Friday, Turkey is getting ready to reap the benefits of its strategic move in Libya as its backing of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has put the country on top of the list to bid on multibillion-dollar contracts.

Turkish support has aided the GNA to reverse a 14-month assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s deputies visited Tripoli earlier this month and contacted GNA officials to discuss cooperation on construction, energy, and banking.

The report claimed that Turkish businessmen have said they are looking forward to playing a key role in the rebuilding of the oil-rich North African country.

The director of Libya’s first think tank, Sadeq Institute, Anas al-Gomati, told DW: “it gave strength to the GNA when it was at its weakest and I think many members of the GNA are keen to return that favor and are seeking partners that they can maintain a strategic relationship with.”

He added that the GNA was looking to Turkey to build more than just a political or a commercial relationship, claiming that Turkey will most likely be at the top of the queue when Libya gets down to rebuilding itself.

Following the Turkish delegation’s visit to Tripoli, Turkish power-ship operator Karadeniz Holding announced that it was preparing a bid to supply up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Libya and will submit it soon.

Turkey has been battling with massive inflation, high unemployment, and a weak Turkish lira, which fell to its lowest level against the dollar during the pandemic.

The author claimed Turkey was seeking a way out of its economic woes by turning to foreign allies to boost its fast-depleting foreign reserves.

Reports revealed that Turkey is in talks with countries such as Japan and the UK to set up currency swap lines.

In the same context, Al-Arabiya and a Middle-Eastern news portal, reported on July 2, that the governor of the Libyan central bank, Al-Siddiq Al-Kabir, has deposited $8 billion in the Central Bank of Turkey for about 4 years without interest to help stabilize the Turkish lira.

DW’s report claimed that Turkish contractors were waiting for a ceasefire and the security situation to improve in Libya, so they can return to the country, said Yenigün, adding that the Libyans have already awarded contracts to Turkish firms in the past month to build five thousand prefabricated homes.

For the energy sector, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez told state-run Anatolia Agency on Sunday: “we are planning to work together with the Libyan National Oil Company. There could be international oil companies that we could work with in the meantime. Time will tell,” he said.

In December 2019, Turkey signed with the GNA, which does not enjoy popular legitimacy, two MoUs on defence, and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.
The maritime border agreement was rejected by several countries such as Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, and the UAE and described as an illegal act that violated the sovereignty of other Mediterranean states.

The agreement was followed by a military deal where Turkey sent military equipment and expert personnel to the GNA to support its fight against the LNA, backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s national oil company Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) applied for gas exploration permits in May for sites within the country’s now-redefined territorial waters, leading to heightened tensions with Cyprus and Greece over violations of internationally-recognised exclusive economic zones.

Murtaza Karanfil, head of Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) in the Turkey-Libya Business Council, told DW that he expects the cooperation is established in the energy sector to expand to other areas.

“Due to the pandemic, things have come to a standstill, but we expect the process to restart soon,” Karanfil said. Last year, Turkey exported to Libya $1.9 billion worth of goods ranging from vegetables and fruits to chemicals and baby food, he added.