The Libyan campaign has moved to a new stage leading to the de facto partition of the North African state into the Eastern and Western parts. President Erdogan has sharply raised the stakes in the big geopolitical game, signing an agreement with the country and the PNC to open a Turkish naval base in the port of Misrata. What did Ankara and Doha achieve with this?
The exact number of Turkish troops in Libya is not known, but the LNA estimates it at 2,500-3000. Ankara and Doha will send their instructors to train PNC fighters, as well as provide places for its cadets in their military schools. And the emergence of a new naval base in the strategically important Libyan port will radically change the situation in favor of the official Tripoli and allied Turkey and Qatar.
First, it will give the allied government of Faiz Saraj a guarantee against military defeat. The Turks have already deployed their air defense systems and drone control points in Libya. The appearance of warships in the port of Misrata, as well as the deployment of the Air Force airfield located near the city, will allow them to quickly buy another “blitzkrieg” from LNA Haftar or another grouping. In fact, this means that the issue of Libya’s unity cannot be resolved by force, and the future of the country will have to be decided only through negotiations and mutual concessions.
Secondly, a full naval base in Tripolitania will ensure Turkey’s dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean. The entire Libyan coast will in fact be in full control of Ankara, as LNA Haftar does not have a combat fleet at all, and the Turkish Navy is one of the strongest in the region. Nothing will prevent President Erdogan from conducting exploration and development of the resources of the Libyan continental shelf under the guise of the navy and army.
Thirdly, Turkey is throwing another anchor at the “black continent” to which it is very interested. It is no secret that Libya is a former province of the Great Port, but it is not only about its neo-Ottoman revanchism. Ankara is seeking access to Africa’s resources, as well as market access to these countries, and has made no secret of it. For example, Turkey has opened a large embassy in Somalia, where it prefers to operate through a policy of “soft power”. From Libya, the road will open to Mali, Niger, Chad, and other countries that are poor but have large reserves of minerals. True, there the Turks will face the interests of the United States, France, and China, but the “sultan” is not too intimidating.
President Erdogan’s expansionist activism is very disliked by NATO allies or his Middle East neighbors. In fact, a broad anti-Turkish coalition has already been formed, as we have described in detail before.
As for Libya itself, its fate is sad. A logical response to the deployment of a naval base in Misrata would be similar steps by other regional players. Egypt, which is now seen as Turkey’s main counterweight, has already been allowed to enter, which is likely to be used. The once-prosperous North African country will be occupied and divided into Western and Eastern parts. However, it will not bring it to her. Neither Field Marshal Haftar nor Tripolitania’s elite, tied to Western business, who do not like Ankara’s military and economic expansion, will give a quiet life to the Turks.