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Monday, 15 July 2024
Can Turkey’s Libyan adventure lead to a direct war with Egypt?
zara saleh

On the eve of the recent visit of the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on last Saturday to the Libyan airbase Al-Watiya, the “unknown aircraft” carried out the strikes against the airbase. The Al-Watiya airbase was retaken from the Libyan National Army (LNA) in May by Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Hulusi Akar’s visit to Tripoli was for the meetings and re-activation of the previous security cooperation agreement that made last November 2019 between Turkey and the Tripoli-based the Government of National Accord. Following that agreement, Turkey has provided military support for the GNA as a part of that security agreement and has sent thousands of Syrian mercenaries and jihadists as part of Ankara's forces in Libya.

In June, Ankara has announced the city of Sirte and Al-Jufra airbase as the new military targets and to push back the LNA forces led by self-styled strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The "unidentified aircraft" that has carried out the airstrikes on Al-Watiya airbase, according to the Turkish officials, are more likely belonged to either the French or Egyptian air forces or might be fighter planes of the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, the planes likely originate from those countries that either known providing direct military support to the LNA forces that led by Khalifa Haftar such as Egypt, Russia, France, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.

The attacks on Al-Watiya has shown that the Erdogan's crossing red lines which have drawn by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. however, in his last speech in June, President Sisi has warned Erdogan by addressing a strong message from airbase near to Libyan border and said, "if the terrorist militias and their Turkish supporters disregard Egypt’s “red lines.”  Egypt is demonstrably prepared to intervene militarily in Libya, if necessary.".

A few weeks ago, before his warning speech, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has announced Cairo's initiative for political negotiations and ceasefire in Libya based on the United Nations agreement in 2015. In Cairo’s meeting, President Sisi has shared the initiative with Marshal Khalifa Haftar the head of LNA and Aguila Saleh, the head of eastern parliament who had supported Haftar. However, Cairo's peace initiative was met with rejection and threat of the Turkish-backed forces and the Government of National Accord that leads by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Erdogan's gamble in Libya and other regional countries such as Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Yemen have risen the tension with those countries and with the NATO's members like France and Greece. In Turkey's-Egypt Libyan confrontation and with the freeze of Cairo's initiative, there are several possibilities and steps that can be taken place before any Egyptian direct armed intervention in Libya.

Regarding the Sirte-Jufrah red line announced by Sisi is that Egypt does not want a Turkish-backed offensive to take Sirte. In his last speech, President Sisi has mentioned the possibility to train and equip tribal youth under the supervision of tribal leaders. Furthermore, there is an option that would see the mobilization of the Libyan tribes who were displaced from Libya for decades and had settled in the West of Egypt. that can provoke many eastern Libyan tribes.

On the other hand, another option for Egyptian intervention in Libya is that to back the Libyan tribes under the direction of Qadhafists. this scenario is more likely to carry out than direct military intervention.

If Turkey's policy continues in the same position under the Othoman's dream project in the Libyan crisis that drives by the new sultan Erdogan, the fail of political negotiations is more likely, then it would, the military intervention will be the final option.

Zara Saleh