Turkey has plunged headlong into Libya’s proxy war, taking sides with Islamists against Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. “Partly it is about competing with rival Sunni leaders; partly it is about oil. It is certainly not about the welfare of Libya’s people,” a report published by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ explained.
According to experts, Ankara, which is facing serious economic pressure, is trying to assert control over natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is taking advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the preoccupation with fighting it to thus gain more influence globally.
Libya is home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, with an estimated 48.4 billion barrels in reserves, the eighth largest in the world. Control of the oil has been at the core of unrest, following the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
By opening Turkey’s border with the EU to displaced Syrians in February, Ankara forcefully reminded Europe that it was fully prepared to use refugees as a political weapon. Turkey continues to deploy thousands of troops deep inside northern Syria, in addition to sending thousands of mercenaries to Libya.
The lurch to Russia, symbolised by Turkey’s purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missiles, has left NATO members asking whether Ankara can be trusted. European leaders must surely realise their problems cannot be ignored, dodged, or downplayed indefinitely, in the hope that it will eventually go away.