Turkish government will probably try to not send fighting troops to Libya - Turkish Cypriot Expert-Exclusive | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

10 April, Friday

Turkish government will probably try to not send fighting troops to Libya - Turkish Cypriot Expert-Exclusive

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Libya has again turned into a significant political area in mass media where regional countries - Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, also international powers - the United States and Russia promote their own political interests. Turkish government’s signing of two agreements with internationally accepted Tripoli government and the ratification of motion on sending Turkish troops to Libya by national parliament already seem concerning to Moscow, Washington, Cairo, and Riyadh. It is interesting to everybody that what consequences the involvement of Turkish troops in Libya could entail in the region.

Картинки по запросу Ahmet Sozen

Eurasia Diary had an interview with Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen, an academic at the department of Political Science and International Relations in Eastern Mediterranean University regarding the current diplomacy of Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. He also expressed his views on confrontation between Iran and the US in Iraq.

Dear Professor Sözen, Turkey signed two agreements with Libya’s internationally recognized National Accord Government, headquartered in Tripoli on military and maritime security cooperation. Turkish government has already gained approval from national parliament to send troops to help Tripoli in fighting against eastern forces led by Haftar. What strategic interests does Turkey have in Libya?

Turkey signed two agreements with Libya. Basically this indicates what strategic interest it has in Libya. As you know Turkey has five littoral states that it can make maritime delineation agreements.  These littoral states are Greek Cypriot dominated Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Syria, Egypt and Libya. The first four countries I just listed have serious problems with Turkey. First, Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus. Second, Turkey has serious maritime border issues with Greece in the Aegean Sea. Third, Turkey has problems with the current Syrian government, and finally there is tension in Turkey’s relationship with the current Sisi government of Egypt. Only country left in this list is Libya. Libya itself has very serious internal problems; as you know in one side there is internationally accepted government in Tripoli, and in other side Haftar regime who is supported by many countries behind closed doors. But in any case, this was a move by Turkey in order to retaliate to its isolation by some of the countries in Eastern Mediterranean - that has been going on for several years. As you know the Republic of Cyprus and Greece signed cooperation agreement with Egypt and Israel in order to bypass and isolate Turkey from the region. Turkey-Libya deal was a move by Turkey in order to prevent any fait accompli by the regional countries and retaliate against any kind of moves that these countries impose on the future of Turkey. That was basically why Turkey signed the deal with Libya in an attempt to change the arithmetic of the maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Furthermore, in my opinion, Turkish government will probably try not to send fighting troops to Libya at the beginning. I think that they will start with some sort of advisory military services to government in Tripol-, also include military training and technical support. But sending troops to Tripoli to help fight against Haftar is not going to be in the cards at the beginning. That is my forecast. I think through this kind of support Turkey will try to prevent Haftar forces to take over those areas where Tripoli government currently occupies. However, though not likely in my opinion, there is always a risk that Turkey could be drawn into a war in Libya, which would have nasty consequences for Turkey.

Moscow support Libya National Army led by Haftar opposing the entrance of Turkish troops in Libya. Do you think that Ankara could encounter next diplomatic tension on Libyan issue as like what happened in Syria before?

I do not think that there will be any diplomatic tension between Moscow and Ankara on this. I consider that both countries are aware of each other’s national interests. Both of them will try to avoid potential diplomatic conflict. The next Erdoğan – Putin summit in Turkey will be very critical in ironing out the differences on this issue.

What Egypt will do in Libya after Turkish Parliament’s approval on motion authorizing government on sending troops to Libya? Could president Al-Sisi make attempt to confront with Turkey with pushing his army in neighbor country?

I mentioned above that I don’t think that Turkey will send troops to the battle ground at the beginning. Even if that was case, in my opinion, Sisi would not attempt to confront directly the Turkish troops in Libyan soil. Maybe, he might use indirect ways of curtailing influence of Turkish troops or Turkish presence in Libya. However, I do not envisage any kind of direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt.  

Our last questions about are Iraq. You know that horrible and drastic processes are going in Iraq could put region under the big threat. First, strong attacks organized by supporters of pro-Iranian Shia militant groups to US embassy in Baghdad protesting American strikes against Kat'aib-Al-Hezbollah, then assassination of Iran top general-Qasim Soleymani in US air strikes. Do you think that, such circumstances could bring Great War between the US and Iran in Iraq?  

Latest developments in Iraq are really worrisome. First, attacks on US embassy and then Trump’s order to assassinate Qasem Soleimani. I consider that these are omens and vey bad signs of developments in region.  This is troubling time for all of us. Iran has already announced that it is going to retaliate on this that might include US targets in the different parts of the Middle East.  However, I don’t think that the United States currently is interested in a direct war against Iran. But, there could be huge risk, if Iran retaliate and provoke the United States - this could cause negative consequences and trigger a war between Iran and the US whose results would be devastating for the whole region.

What could Turkish government  do in de-escalation of tension between its ally and neighbor in Iraq?

Most common sense step Turkey can do is to de-escalate rising tension between its ally, the US, and its neighbor, Iran. I don’t think that conflict and armed clashes between the US and Iran are at the best interest of Turkish government. Turkey, in my opinion, should play the role of de-escalating the tension between the US and Iran rather than siding with one of the two parties.



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