In April last year, putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who was once an asset of the CIA, repudiated the United Nations-brokered Skhirat Agreement, declaring that he had taken the helm of the country.
Asserting that he would take control of the entire country with armed forces at his disposal, Haftar had previously attempted coups as well, declaring that he "took over" the administration.
Thus, Haftar and his gang, supported by many international powers, launched an armed uprising against the Government of National Accord (GNA). He committed various war crimes, from torture to the bombing of civilian settlements, including schools. Meanwhile, despite being the only legitimate structure recognized by the U.N., the GNA found itself trapped in the global arena – that is, until the Turks came.
Turkey began to support the GNA in May 2019. Turkey and Libya also signed an agreement on the restriction of marine jurisdictions in November 2019, as well as other agreements in the areas of military and security.
GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj then invited the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to support Libya. Despite the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Italy, Greece, France and Italy supporting Haftar, the GNA, which was considered certain to fall, has survived thanks to Turkey.
As most recently happened in al-Watiya air base, Haftar's forces have been leaving military bases without a backward glance. The Turkish Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are skillfully hunting the active Pantsirs, Russian-made air defense systems that the UAE purchased and delivered to Haftar. Eight Pantsirs, each worth $15 million, were incapacitated by Turkish UAVs. Russia also sent fighter jets in support of Haftar, The New York Times reported.
If GNA forces, which are advancing regardless of the calls for a cease-fire, take over the city of Tarhuna in the coming period, the Haftar gang would be living on borrowed time.
Thus, Turkey not only ensured the survival of the sole government recognized by the U.N. despite multinational foreign support but also proved that it would not let anyone exploit its rights of sovereignty in the Mediterranean.
One of the reasons for the decline of the Ottoman Empire was its loss of power on the high seas, while one of the reasons for Turkey's growth internationally will be the gains it has made thanks to the agreement with Libya and the insistent will of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It has become clear that the friends of Libya would not be supporters of Haftar, who brought civil war and civilian massacres to the country, but those who support the legitimate government that promises peace and stability. Moreover, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg indicated that NATO was ready to support the Tripoli government.
If the Western powers attempt to equalize Turkey's influence in Libya in this equation again, they will harm not only the Libyan people but also their own interests in the region.