Turkey’s Erdogan Calls on Europe to Support De-escalation Efforts in Libya


Rabat – As the world fears further escalation of violence in Libya, Turkey’s Erdogan is calling for Europe to be more involved in brokering peace agreements and any other initiatives that could lead to de-escalation in the Libyan crisis.

In an opinion article published by Politico, the Turkish president made the point that the EU needs to get actually involved in pushing for peace and de-escalation in Libya, rather than “watch from the sidelines” as they did in Syria.

Opening his article by blaming the international for its “apathy” and its failure to “live up to its responsibility” for almost a decade in Libya’s “bloody civil war,” the Turkish president said it is time for the EU to step up and show to the world that it is still a force to reckon with on issues of global significance.

“The Libyan civil war serves as a litmus test for the EU. Will European leaders uphold the liberal world order in the face of yet another attack? Or will they abdicate their responsibilities, as they did in Syria, to watch the crisis unfold from the sidelines?” wrote Erdogan. He added, “The EU needs to show the world that it is a relevant actor in the international arena.”

The Turkish leader also spoke of the internal divisions limiting Europe’s ability to effectively broker a peace deal in Libya. He especially called out France for siding with “coup plotter” Haftar, suggesting that the EU will not be regarded as a serious broker so long as one of its core members is directly involved in the Libyan quagmire.

Not surprisingly, with turkey engaged in Libya alongside the Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN-recognized Tripoli-based government, Erdogan took a jibe at other Middle Eastern countries supporting Khalifa Haftar’s forces, calling on the international community to prevent a “warlord” from deposing the UN-recognized government.

“Libya’s government, which the United Nations recognizes, has been under attack by the warlord Khalifa Haftar for several years. His armed group, which seeks to carry out a coup d’état in the country, enjoys support from the anti-democratic governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among others.”

When Turkey announced that it would be sending boots on the ground to support the Tripoli-based government, there were fears that Ankara’s involvement in Libya would provide fertile ground for terrorist groups to claim more territory in Libya as the first step towards reconstruction after being defeated in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

Basing their assessment on reports that Turkey would partly rely on its “Syrian allies” (Turkey-backed Syrian militias) in its Libyan engagement, critics of Erdoğan’s Turkey argued that Ankara’s involvement in Libya amounted to a “free pass” to radical groups from Syria.

For Erdogan, however, it is the other way around. “Terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find a fertile ground to get back on their feet. Indeed, some groups that largely share those terrorist organizations’ ideology, including the Madkhali-Salafis, are fighting alongside Haftar. If the conflict rages on, the violence and instability will also fuel irregular migration toward Europe.”

Erdogan’s comments come ahead of a one-day Berlin meeting on the Libyan conflict. Scheduled for January 19, the summit is set to convene leaders from Russia, France, Turkey, China, the US, and other “key regional actors” to discuss peace prospects for Libya.

While Haftar and GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj are both expected to attend the Berlin summit, many experts are of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that Germany will successfully broker a historic agreement between the two men.

The caution is especially pertinent as the Berlin summit comes just days after a similar meeting in Russia, engineered by Erdogan and Putin in an attempt to convince Haftar to commit to de-escalation, ended with Haftar leaving in a rush and without signing the cease-fire deal Turkey and Russia had put together.

That Haftar “felt emboldened to snub Putin,” Bloomberg commented after the failed Moscow summit, “is testament to how unpredictable Libya’s civil war has become.”

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