Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Turkish ambitions in Libya collides with the maritime demarcation rock

Saturday 08/August/2020 - 03:46 PM
The Reference
Shaima Hefzy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his provocative statements about the situation in the eastern Mediterranean region, and raises the intensity of his threatening rhetoric towards the Libyan file, despite the many international warnings of Erdogan, who is blinded by ambitions and interests about seeing the truth and speaking the language of reason.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced its rejection of the agreement on the demarcation of the maritime borders concluded Thursday, August 6, 2020 between Egypt and Greece, and said that it is "null for Ankara," stressing that Turkey does not recognize the existence of a maritime border between the two countries.

Turkey said that the Egyptian-Greek agreement concerns a region that Turkey considers part of its continental shelf, and that it considers it a violation of international maritime rights.

The ministry claimed that Ankara has "legitimate rights and interests" in the area mentioned in the Egyptian-Greek agreement, stressing that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will continue to firmly defend it.

The signing of the Egyptian-Greek agreement came against the backdrop of the conclusion of a memorandum on demarcating the maritime borders between Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj in November 2019.

That memorandum became an additional source of tension in the Mediterranean, and it called for new opposition from some of Turkey's regional neighbors, led by Egypt, Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus.

The Turkish statements regarding the agreement come at a time of raging disagreement between Cairo and Ankara regarding Turkish interventions in Libya, in addition to a previous Turkish objection to the demarcation agreement, and the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum established by Egypt 2019.

The Turkish objection to the agreement leads to the essence of the intervention and Ankara's declaration to provide diabetes and logistical support to the Libyan militias, the "government of reconciliation", in order to gain control over Libya's oil and resources, and to create a region of strength in the Middle East.

Turkish ambitions are not hidden or concealed, as the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) submitted a formal request to the so-called Libyan Government of National Accord to obtain permission to explore for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan's ambitions coincide with the desires of Fayez al-Sarraj and Abd al-Hakim Belhadj, a member of al-Qaeda, to enjoy the rule of Libya, under the threat of weapons and Turkish support, when the country takes over a gold plate to Erdogan.

 Fait accompli policy

Al-Wefaq had signed an agreement with Ankara in November 2019 to establish an exclusive economic zone from the southern Turkish coast on the Mediterranean to the coasts of northeastern Libya.

In addition to the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding on demarcating the maritime borders in the Mediterranean between Ankara and Tripoli, in contradiction to the norms of international law and the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations on Libya, an agreement that was rejected by Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, France and the Emirates.

Jana Jabbour of the Institute of Political Science in Paris, who specializes in Turkish foreign policy, says that the cooperation of Erdogan and Al-Sarraj is "a win-win game: the Government of National Accord obtains Turkish political and military support, and in return it helps Turkey achieve its goals in the energy file."

The researcher pointed out to "Deutsche Welle" that Ankara wants to preserve its economic interests in Libya, especially in the construction sector, as it will be threatened in the event of Haftar's victory.

Writer Abdul-Bari Atwan says in the London-based online newspaper Rai Al-Youm that: "The ambitions of the Turkish president are not limited to obtaining the largest possible share of Libyan oil and gas only, but also extend to the consolidation of Turkish influence in Libya, politically and militarily, and this explains the discovery of the 'Yeni' newspaper. Shafak 'close of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara.

In an article published under the title “What does the sudden disclosure of Erdogan’s plan to establish two Turkish air and naval bases in Libya mean?” Atwan added: “Turkish forces, reinforced with naval frigates and heavy military equipment, and thousands of mercenaries, terrorist elements and drones are already present on the ground.”

Atwan asked: "The question currently being asked is whether the neighboring countries of Libya, such as Algeria and Tunisia in the west, and Egypt in the east, will accept this de-facto policy imposed by the Turkish presence, and coexist with it accordingly, or will they confront it politically and perhaps militarily in the foreseeable future?"

Turkey is still sending mercenary fighters to Libya, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed, on August 6, 2020, that the Turkish government sent a new group of mercenaries from Syria to Libya, to fight alongside the armed militias that control Tripoli.

 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a new batch of 300 people from the armed Syrian factions loyal to Ankara arrived in the past two days in Libya.

The observatory indicated that the number of mercenaries who have arrived so far from Syria to Libya via Turkey has reached 17,300 mercenaries, including 350 children under the age of 18 years.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 6 thousand mercenaries from the pro-Turkish factions have returned from Libya to Syria, after the end of their contracts and taking their financial dues.