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Analysing the Turkish interest in Libya

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It should never have been far from the headlines, since the suffering of the Libyan people has never really subsided following the collapse of the regime of Muammar Ghaddafi.

Some might say those days before the revolution were better but even then, people were suffering.

Now Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has set his sights on Libya promising military assistance to the Tripoli based government, which is currently under attack by the forces led by Khalifa Haftar. The risks associated with such an intervention are considerable, especially the threat that other foreign armed troops might imitate the Turkish move.

But foreign forces have been engaged in Libya for a long time. There was the NATO intervention that caused the downfall of Gaddafi, as well as various countries hailing both from the Western and the Eastern front, as well as Arab countries, which supported one side or another in the Libyan conflict in the succeeding years ….each with their own agenda, with hardly any consideration to the real needs of the Libyan people.

There is very little…or maybe a lot…to gain from this conflict beyond the oil that greases the machine.

Turkey’s interest in Libya is not new. Ever since 2011, Turkey has been seeking to develop a policy of influence in the aftermath of the fall of Libya’s former ruler. Economic calculations are another factor, with Libya offering huge prospects in terms of infrastructure development and reconstruction. Thirdly, one must also consider Turkey’s military aspirations that include selling weapons to the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli.

Many times, maybe too many times, it has been said that the solution to the Libyan conflict is not military and that the it is the Libyans who hold the key to the solution, and rightly so. But very little has been done to give the Libyans the tools to achieve stability and peace that most of them aspire to and rightly deserve. These tools that do not necessarily mean weapons of war.

Various nations and international organisations have been conspicuously absent in the efforts to find a concrete solution to the Libyan issue.

And until this issue – a very difficult and complex one to resolve – is given the attention and importance it rightly deserves; it is very doubtful that an everlasting solution will be found. A solution that puts the interest of the country and its people first, with the aim of letting it flourish and allowing it to find its rightful place within the international community.

Tonio Galea 

Liub, Analyst and Editor 

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