The Eastern Mediterranean region has emerged as the focal point for Turkey's foreign policy. Ankara's involvement isn't limited to keeping its navy around the island of Cyprus to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots. The country has already deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Geçitkale, Northern Cyprus, and there is talk of setting up a naval base on the island.
Over the weekend, the Turkish Parliament ratified two agreements with Libya. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that his administration would consider providing military support to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) upon request. On Friday, GNA Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj requested assistance from Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Algeria to repel an offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces. Haftar, who commands the so-called "Libyan National Army," had mobilized his forces in 10 western provinces on Dec. 12 for the purpose of capturing the capital Tripoli. According to local reports, the situation in Tripoli, which escalated to a critical level, will determine the fate of the GNA.
The Turkish approach to Libya reflects the view that the two countries are "maritime neighbors." In other words, the Turks see the Libyan conflict as a matter of border security – and, by extension, protecting Turkish interests through the demarcation of maritime jurisdictions, in Cyprus, and over hydrocarbon reserves. Accordingly, the potential deployment of Turkish troops to Libya is considered part and parcel of Ankara's strategic offensive in the Eastern Mediterranean. Defending Tripoli, in this sense, is also crucial for the future allocation of maritime jurisdictions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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