One of the rival governments in Libya signed maritime and economic deals with Turkey, the development has escalated tensions with Libya’s other regime. The MoUs signed between Libya and Turkey provide for further partnership in the oil and hydrocarbon sectors. Turkey backs the Tripoli-based government of Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in Libya.
The foreign minister of Turkey told the media, “First of all, the Hydrocarbon Agreement that we just signed aims to allow cooperation between Turkish companies and Libyan companies (in areas, ed) such as exploration and drilling with a “win-win” understanding in our maritime jurisdictions both on land and at sea”.
Two governments in Libya
There are two governments in Libya, one is based in Tripoli called Government of National Unity under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, which is backed by the UN and supported by the West. The other regime is based in Sirte under Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, known as the Government of National Stability, which was appointed through a vote in Libya’s parliament. Ever since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that culminated in the demise of Muammar Gaddafi and his regime, Libya has had political instability. In 2014, Libya split between two rival governments, one based in the west, Tripoli and the other in the east.
Turkey backs Abdul Hamid’s government in Libya
Turkey has good relations with Libya, in the last few years the two have strengthened their friendship. Turkey provided assistance to Abdul Hamid’s government in its conflict with General Khalifa Haftar’s regime.
In 2019, Turkey and the government under PM Abdul Hamid signed agreements which were based on military cooperation and the demarcation of maritime boundaries, through which Turkey started supplying weapons to him and his fighters to assist in the civil war with Haftar. Turkey used the maritime boundary agreement with Abdul Hamid’s government to proceed with its drilling activities and exploration in the eastern Mediterranean sea which has plenty of oil and gas reserves.
Turkey and Russia involvement in Libya’s conflict
Russia and Turkey back rival regimes in the civil war of Libya, the reason for backing the two opposing sides is for future energy contracts and other energy deals involving billions in Libya which is an oil-rich nation. Russia supports the rebel commander Khalifa Haftar whose militias tried to overthrow the UN-backed government in Tripoli so that he can become the head of the government in Libya. Russia deployed its mercenaries to support Haftar in his quest for power, Reports have said that Wagner Group fighters are present in Libya to look after Kremlin’s interests.
The US military claimed Russia is sending military equipment to its mercenaries in Libya. The US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) stated that there was evidence from satellite photos which shows Moscow’s military cargo planes transporting supplies to fighters of Wagner Group in Libya.
Russia backs Khalifa Haftar’s government
Russia is actively involved in the conflict in Libya. The country is resource rich, it has oil which the US and the EU are facing a severe shortage of in the wake of their sanctions on Russia and cutting the supply of mineral resources from there. Russia realises that if it doesn’t get involved in the Libyan civil war, then the government backed by Turkey, UN and the West will overthrow the Haftar’s government and Abdul Hamid, who is a puppet, will be rewarded for his loyalty.
If the West manages to topple the regime of Haftar, then the people of Libya will be the victims of another war of the US and the EU which will cost countless lives and loss of property. Turkey’s economic condition does not look good. As Turkey is a member of NATO which is an arch rival of Putin, Russia will do everything in its power to stop the invasion of Libya by the West which in the name of “protecting democracy” can install a puppet leader who will give the control of oil reserves of Libya to the US and EU.
Common interests, common enemy
Turkey infringes on the maritime jurisdictions of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in the east Mediterranean. In August, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement which designated an exclusive economic zone in an area which contains oil and gas reserves. The Greek-Egyptian agreement is intended to annul Turkey’s agreement with Abdul Hamid’s government and to put an end to Turkey’s rising presence in the region.
Greece, Cyprus and Egypt are enemies of Turkey, they have formed a group called East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMFG), based in Egypt. The purpose of the group is to develop the energy resources of member states in the Mediterranean region. Turkey which has been excluded from the EMFG has called it an “alliance of evil” which is working to restrict it from accessing energy resources.
Now, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt have common interests with Russia when it comes to Turkey. All four nations are in conflict with Turkey over mineral resources, in former’s case Turkey is trying its best to gain control over their maritime jurisdiction which has oil and gas reserves whereas in latter, it is working to overthrow the Haftar regime so that it can get its hands on oil in Libya. Russia and Turkey were also involved in a conflict in Syria where both nations backed the opposite sides, the Kremlin supporting Bashar al-Assad and Ankara regarding him as a foe.
Now, If Russia, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt unite against their common adversary Turkey, then there is a strong possibility of Turkey suffering a tremendous defeat. If there is an all-out war between these countries and Turkey, then repercussions will be drastic with Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffering massive loss.