Erdoğan’s meddling in Libya could lead to new setback for Turkey – Arab Weekly

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose political sway is waning inside the country, has chosen to play outside Turkey, in Libya, to regain some of his former lustre, wrote Iraqi writer Farouk Yousef in the Arab Weekly. 

The Turkish strongman’s meddling in Libya, however, could lay the groundwork for another setback for the country, the article said.

Libya is in the midst of its third civil war since the 2011 ousting and killing of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar, controls much of the east and south of the North African country, and in April launched an offensive that threatened to capture the Libyan capital city from the internationally recognised Islamist-rooted Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).

Turkey supports the GNA government in Tripoli while LNA is supported by Turkey’s regional rivals Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. 

The LNA accuses Turkey of funding and arming Islamist factions in Libya fighting on the side of the GNA, a claim Turkey initially denied, but has since accepted. 

Erdoğan’s support of the Islamist militias that rule Tripoli “might be ideological first and foremost so he can justify to his party and the Turkish people his intervention in a distant country, should his action be challenged legally,’’ Yousef said.

The GNA, while having the legitimacy of international recognition by its side, uses the rogue armed militias to defend itself, the article said, adding that the Turkish President wants to have a place in that party, using his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) relations with groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. 

Erdoğan on on Saturday met with GNA head Fayez al-Sarra in Istanbul, reiterating his support for the Tripoli government.

The Turkish president’s desire to prove to his opponents and pundits that, under his leadership, the new Turkey is the strongest, Yousef wrote, has at times terribly backfired. 

The article pointed to downing of a Russian plane in November 2015 and his legal struggle with the United States over Ankara’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 system, among others.

Erdogan’s uninformed meddling in the Libyan war could lead to another Turkish setback, the article concluded.