Tunisia, Egypt concerned over Turkey’s push in Libya - Arab Weekly

Deals between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj over military cooperation and maritime demarcation are ringing alarm bells over regional tensions for Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab Weekly said.

Western Libya, controlled by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), is an important economic and security valve for Tunisia, wrote columnist Lamine Ghanmi. 

The region adjacent to Tunisia holds significance due to many in the south of the country making a living off the informal economy that relies on the smuggling from Libya of heavily subsidised goods such as oil, he added.

Tunisia’s traditionally complicated relationship with the Islamist militias and tribes allied with the GNA now faces further problems with Tripoli’s expanded military and security cooperation with Turkey, the article said.

Ankara last month reached two agreements with Libya's Tripoli-based GNA. One a maritime agreement determines the Turkish-Libyan continental shelf and exclusive economic zone coordinates, the other, a comprehensive security and military cooperation deal. 

The Turkey-Libya maritime agreement, which ignores territorial waters around the divided island of Cyprus and number of Greek islands, including Crete, has prompted the EU to threatened sanctions against Ankara.

The Turkish president followed the deals with a statement earlier this month that he was ready to send troops to Libya if requested by the GNA.

Tunisian political leaders and analysts say Turkey’s manoeuvres in Libya are forcing the country to make difficult choices because the deals angered the European Union and NATO, a crucial military and security support for the country, the article said. 

Turkey’s influence in the war-torn country is likely to change the alignment of forces in the Libyan conflict, Ghanmi wrote, racketing up the support they receive from abroad, which poses more security risks for Tunisia.

Tunisia could face a turning point in its relations with the GNA government in Tripoli and must adapt its alliances to the shift prompted by the Turkish intervention, according to former Tunisian presidential adviser Mohsen Marzouk.

Turkey’s willingess to be involved Libya is also receiving reactions from Egypt, wrote Arab Weekly columnist Amr Emam on Sunday.

Erdoğan’s remarks on sending troops to Libya cross Egyptian national security red lines and cannot be taken lightly by Cairo, he cited analysts as saying.

Egypt has also objected to the Turkey-Libya maritime agreement.