“Turkey is sending troops to Libya to ensure the stability of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced.
Ankara has already deployed forces to train troops loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA), as part of a security cooperation agreement between the two countries.
He also said that as part of a maritime agreement, it would no longer be possible for other countries to conduct oil exploration and drilling off the coast of Libya, without the approval of Ankara and Tripoli.“
“To ensure stability” my ass…
“When rumors first circulated in early December 2019 that Turkey would send Syrian rebel fighters to Libya and pay them like mercenaries to fight in a foreign war they were greeted with skepticism.
Now there are thousands of Syrians in Libya fighting for Turkey and for a ramshackle government in Tripoli that they have no stake or interest in. How did the Syrian rebellion that once sought to un-seat Assad become a tool in Ankara’s foreign policy, something between a foreign legion and a gang of mercenaries for hire?
In November Turkey signed a deal with the embattled Tripoli government in Libya. Although the Government of the National Accord in Libya only controls a small part of the country and is being opposed by Libyan General Khalifa Haftar who is backed by Egypt, Turkey decided it would wring concessions out of Tripoli in exchange for sending Syrians to fight in Libya. Turkey got rights to an exclusive economic zone off the coast of Libya and Tripoli got to be a dumping ground for Syrian rebel fighters.
Early in December Turkey began recruiting the Syrians to fight in Libya. At first it was just rumors and those who reported it were scoffed at. But soon it became clear that dozens, then hundreds and then thousands were signing up and being sent. The Guardian claimed on January 15 that up to 2,000 Syrians are already in Libya at the behest of Turkey. According to the report the Tripoli government pays the men salaries for six months as a kind of mercenary or foreign legion, while Turkey will help with medical needs.
Libya is a long way from Aleppo and the fields of Syria where these rebels first were fighting. They have now become Turkey’s mercenary army, a kind of motley crew of a foreign legion. Turkey hopes they will stay in Libya, distracted by a new “Jihad” so that they don’t make trouble in Syria for Turkey. Turkey wants to work with Russia in Syria and also sign a deal with Russia for parts of Libya.
The Syrian rebels are now a tool of Ankara’s foreign policy to be exported wherever Ankara needs leverage. They are used for leverage so that Ankara can wring deals from Russia. While the Syrian rebels may be making a few hundred dollars a month the overall amounts are pennies compared to the billions in arms and energy deals that Ankara wants to do with Moscow. But for just a few million dollars Turkey can gain the leverage to get things done with Moscow and to police its new occupied areas in northern Syria. This is military expedition on the cheap. Turkey doesn’t have to invest in Libya or northern Syria so long as it can keep the Syrian rebels distracted with new enemies to fight every six months. The question for Ankara is what happens when there are no more enemies? For now there are enough in Libya.“