Libya has been divided since 2014 between two rival administrations – one in the west and one in the east, as it was plunged into a civil war after the NATO intervention and Muammar Ghaddafi’s overthrow.
Although a United Nations-mediated unitary government has been formed, the political crisis in the country still continues, as the power struggles between the east and the west-centered administrations endure. Last week, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives (HoR) Abdullah Bliheg has announced that the parliamentary elections would be held 30 days after the presidential elections. However, the other legislature in the country, the High Council of State (HCS), has rejected the previous electoral laws.
On the other hand, the United Nations-led 5+5 Joint Military Commission representing the Libyan political forces has approved a plan to gradually deport all foreign mercenaries, foreign fighters and forces from the country as a result of the talks in Geneva, Switzerland last week. The transitional government has also called for the deportation of all foreign mercenaries and forces at the same time.
Experts view these developments in the context of the positioning of the United States and the Western powers against the presence of Turkey and Russia in Libya. Especially the US, France and Italy make parallel statements and take parallel actions that all target the presence of Turkey and Russia in Libya.
Elif Ilhamoglu has interviewed the retired Lieutenant General, former Head of Intelligence of General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, Ismail Hakkı Pekin about recent developments in Libya.
‘They are trying to get Turkey and Russia out of Libya’
Are the Western powers and especially the United States, trying to get Turkey and Russia out of Libya?
Yes, the new Libyan government is trying to expel both Turkey and Russia out of the country, with the help of the West and especially the United States and France. The situation is so serious that even the elections may be postponed. The Russian and Turkish political interests in Libya are parallel. Therefore, these two countries can come to an understanding on Libya. This is the reason why this new government is trying to get them out before they can reach an agreement.
The presence of Turkey and Russia in the region puts the United States and France at a disadvantageous position. The Russian presence there is a very critical issue for the United States. The Russian presence in Libya – after Syria – provides Moscow with an upper hand in its activities in both the Eastern Mediterranean and in Africa.
The same goes for the Turkish presence. The Russian presence in the region will also give a huge disadvantage to the West/the US in controlling the energy resources. The USA is currently trying to partition the country into a few states. Perhaps they will adopt a federation model. However, in such underdeveloped countries, the model of a federation can lead into conflicts or a civil war after a while, so the Turkish and the Russian presence is very important for Libya’s future. These two countries’ presence there is also very important in preventing any American plans in the region.
‘The goal is to create regional wars via internal conflicts’
Can you explain a little more about these American plans over Libya?
We know that the US has been withdrawing its troops to the Asia-Pacific theater and creating a military buildup there. Globally, the economical, technological and the military center might be shifting towards Asia. But a full-fledged war will probably not break around the Pacific. That region is covered with nuclear warheads and advanced military technologies so much that, a war cannot break out, because that would immediately turn into a World War there.
The areas where a war can break out are the following; the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, West Africa, Central Asia and the Caspian Basin. There, the United States is trying to fabricate civil wars or internal conflicts via proxies, sectarian divisions and micro-nationalism. The West and the USA desires to create conflicts here. They are trying to justify their own military interventions by throwing them into internal chaos. They want to create conflicts in the Mediterranean, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. They are trying to keep their main military bulk in the Asia-Pacific and then to create internal conflicts around these regions. In order to prevent such fraudulent plans, the Mediterranean must become a sea of peace. One-third of the global trade moves via this sea. The peace and prosperity in this region is only possible through a common understanding between the countries of the region.
‘The experiences of Astana could be applied for Libya’
How can Moscow and Ankara develop a common stance on this issue? Can these two countries foil Western plans, while also keeping their spheres of influence?
The continuation of the Turkish and the Russian presence in Libya could disrupt these plans. The ground is very suitable for these two countries to develop a mutual cooperation on this issue. They can first make joint investments since Libya needs infrastructure desperately. They can take over the rebuilding and the city planning of the count, including reconstruction activities. Germany may offer some support for this too. In addition, the presence of these two countries could also pave the way for the inclusion of Libya into the context of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
Turkey needs to fully grasp the idea behind this charade of the West. And the only way to prevent it, is through forming regional alliances. This charade will only stop with regional alliances with countries such as Syria, Iran, Russia and Egypt. Russia and Turkey should not clash with each other and should instead form an alliance with each other and with countries such as Algeria and Libya for North Africa. We can actually solve most of our problems in context of Libya. But if we choose seek short-term gains and enter into clash with each other, than the imperialism will prevail.
The issue is not limited to Libya; there is also Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. We can make commercial, political or military cooperation with all these. And thus, the path for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative will also be paved. The cooperation in Libya would pave the way for the cooperation in Syria. Vice versa, the experiences in Syria and in Astana can be applied in Libya. The disputes will be put aside, and they can focus on the problems that can be solved instead. That is the way we should choose. Turkey should no longer try to stick to the old alliances, and instead, it should act according to its own interests.