Turkey, Middle East, Africa

Turkey: Penal discusses Libya crisis, E.Med issue

Ankara-based think-tank hosts panel, titled Eastern Mediterranean Conflict and Libyan Crisis

Ali Murat Alhas   | 16.01.2020
Turkey: Penal discusses Libya crisis, E.Med issue


An Ankara-based think-tank on Thursday held a panel on the growing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Libya where the UN-recognized government fights self-style forces of a military commander. 

Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM)’s panel, titled Eastern Mediterranean Conflict and the Libyan Crisis, was held with the participation of national and international experts and was broadcast live by Al Jazeera’s Mubasher channel.

Nebahat Tanriverdi Yasar, a researcher, said the EU and UN were mostly concerned about the refugee crisis in 2014 and therefore their main motivation back then was based on a short-term goal, meaning they only sought to delay ground clashes between adversaries.

Yasar's remarks came ahead of the Berlin Conference on Libya slated for Sunday. Following a call by Turkish and Russian presidents, Libya’s warring sides recently gathered in Moscow, however, talks on permanent cease-fire failed after Haftar left Russian capital without signing the agreement.

"At least one of the conflicting parties in Libya seeks to resolve [dispute] through military means, it views war as a solution instrument," she said, referring to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord’s (GNA) rival commander Khalifa Haftar.

She went on to say that Haftar’s return from Moscow without a concrete cease-fire agreement was strong evidence of his war-based views.

Nizar Krikish, director for al-Bayan Center Studies, said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has repeatedly said Cairo was not involved in the Libya crisis, but that was not true as ground realities are contradicting his claims.

Krikish added that Libya witnessed Egypt’s interference for years, that the lack of support to the GNA was a war crime committed by the Egyptian administration.

He went on to note that the GNA was abandoned by regional countries until Turkey appeared on stage.

"The agreement struck by Turkey and the GNA is pretty important with regards to Libya's rebuilding," he said, and noted that there would be less foreign interference on Libya’s internal policies as the country grows stronger.

Essam Abdelshafi, a member of Egyptian Studies Institute, said the revolution and counter-revolution incidents across the Middle East in recent years have paved the way for instability and many regional countries now suffer from political turmoil.

Referring to the Libyan crisis, which emerged following the toppling of then-leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, he said there were now many regional and international actors involved such as Egypt, Algeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and France.

Abdelshafi said the UAE and Saudi Arabia operated as locomotives encouraging Egypt's involvement in Libya crisis and they were responsible for cyber and military operations in a bid to gain control in the crisis.

“Turkey needs to be careful and calculate everything in detail,” he said.

Recep Yorulmaz, director of Economic Studies at ORSAM, said Turkey considered natural resources in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean region a vital element as the country’s main current deficit was a result of dependency on foreign energy resources.

“As a country with the longest shoreline [along the Eastern Mediterranean], Turkey has started to defend its rights arising from the international agreements,” Yorulmaz said.

"The main purpose of Turkey's regional policy is to protect rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," he said, referring to the crisis near Cyprus island with the Greek Cypriots.

"Any plan excluding Turkey, including the EastMed [pipeline project led by Israel], will not be effective both in terms of cost and political fields," he said, adding regional countries would eventually find common ground with Turkey.

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