Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to shore up support and protect his interests in Libya. The recent ceasefire agreement signed by the Libyan parties is believed to threaten Ankara’s goals in the country.
Over the last 12 months, Turkey has sent weapons, equipment, and thousands of mercenaries to fight alongside the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), against the Libyan National Army (LNA). This support led to a number of GNA victories and resulted in a stalemate at the borders of Sirte and Al-Jufra, in central Libya. This very stalemate has now evolved into the ongoing peace talks. President Erdogan has rejected this ceasefire agreement. The Turkish Ministry of Defence continues to train GNA forces, despite all military pacts being frozen until a new government is elected.
Ankara has delved deeper into the Libyan economy, as Turkish companies and goods flood the local market. Turkish company SADAT International Defence Consultancy is believed to have taken over the supervision and transport of Syrian mercenaries to Libya. The BECAR company took over the supply of drones to help GNA forces during the conflict.
CALIK is undertaking work in energy and electricity projects in Libya. This is further supplemented by the Karadeniz energy company, which is looking to invest in the electricity sector of Libya. In terms of oil exploration, Ankara gave way to the TPAO company to take on this task. A Turkish company was also appointed to oversee the running of Libyan ports. The Genghis company is believed to have been promised large reconstruction projects by the Turkish government.
The first agreement signed between the GNA and the Turkish government was in November 2019. This was for the demarcation of maritime borders, between the two countries. This agreement has been wholly rejected by Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and other nations.
Due to the ongoing electricity crisis in the country, another agreement was signed on 8 July 2020. This was to supply western Libya with floating power stations. A short while later another contract was signed on 20 July for the management of seaports in Libya.
The hard-hit Turkish economy was alleviated by another deal with the GNA. An agreement on 13 August, called for the resumption of stalled projects in Libya since 2011. This was signed on 31st of the month, with a MoU signed with the Central Bank of Libya for financial cooperation.
In September, Turkey announced the conclusion of an agreement with the GNA to manage major projects in Libya without specifying the type and form of those projects. On 14 November, an agreement was concluded aimed at developing Misrata International Airport, which was recently damaged in a fire.
Turkey Uses Local Partners in Libya
Notably, Turkey has also developed close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya to advance its commercial and political goals. The Muslim Brotherhood and some GNA-affiliated militias have now become Ankara’s last card to safeguard its interests in the country. This is why the country keeps training and delivering weapons to such militias whilst being overtly critical of the work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission which seeks to implement a permanent ceasefire through which militias and foreign mercenaries are removed from Libyan territories.