The past few days have witnessed significant diplomatic efforts regarding the strengthening of legitimate political actors’ roles and the establishment of permanent stability in Libya. While the Libyan Army in the past two weeks has made important gains in the field, the official government in the country continues to make diplomatic gains in the international arena.
In the diplomatic traffic that has accelerated since the visit of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj to Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held phone calls with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdoğan will also have a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the upcoming days.
It is possible to say that the Erdoğan-Trump call saw concrete results for Ankara regarding Libya because after the call it became evident that both countries had agreed on a new era without putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar in Libya. In the upcoming days, the foreign ministers, defense ministers, national security advisers and heads of intelligence of Turkey and the U.S. are expected to establish a working platform for coordination and invest long hours for reaching a result.
Erdoğan and Putin discussed the cease-fire continuing under the guarantorship of Turkey and Russia in Syria and the fact that a permanent cease-fire has to be established immediately in Libya, among other issues, presidential sources said.
However, the idea that Turkey and the U.S. approaching a new period in Libya points to a similar consensus with Russia, given Moscow’s current reactions, for now, seems like a distant possibility. Even though Moscow has repeatedly indicated moves in this regard, there have been no solid steps pointing to it ending its support of Haftar, mirroring its backing of Bashar Assad in Syria.
Besides, Russia has not ended its military activities in support of Haftar, hindering the path to a cease-fire, while it has also attended the Cairo summit, labeled as “stillborn” by Turkey. Turkey has conveyed all its concerns in these matters to its interlocutors both in discussions between its leaders and with its foreign ministers.
Erdoğan has also indicated that the participation of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Jordan along with Russia at the Cairo summit, sponsored by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, was a huge disappointment for Turkey.
On the other hand, in the phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that Turkey strongly believes a permanent and legitimate cease-fire in Libya can only be established through an agreement made on a large international platform such as the United Nations. It can be said that an agreement between Turkey and the U.S. in this regard was warmly welcomed by NATO.
All of these developments can be interpreted as the nearing of an upcoming consensus that will ensure the participation of Russia since continuing the protection of actors on the losing side in Libya, after Syria, will damage Russia’s image as a regional and international actor in the face of an agreement between Turkey, the U.S., Germany and international organizations such as NATO that reflects common sense. Moreover, it does not seem to be a sustainable policy for its own political and economic balances for Russia to make military and economic investments in losing actors both in Syria and in Libya.
In this way, Erdoğan’s statement that “Haftar could be excluded from the process in Libya at any moment” and indicating that developments continued to verify this possibility will be factors that pressure Russia to adopt a clear stance.
If Russia resigns from the pro-Haftar camp, the illegitimate presence in Libya of the UAE and Egypt, which have been supporting the warlord, will also come to an end.
The upcoming days will witness processes that will enlarge the political and legitimate platform in Libya for a permanent cease-fire, sustainable peace and Libya being led by Libyans. A new period has commenced in which the increasing weight of the U.S., Turkey, NATO and Germany, if it chooses to participate, will exclude Haftar and his supporters from the game in Libya.