6 m.   |  2020-09-07

Military Triangle

O n August 18, 2020, Turkey, Qatar and Libya signed a military agreement. The pact was based on increasing the military capabilities of the Libyan Armed Forces with it signed with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). Based on the agreement, Turkey and Qatar will send advisers and military personnel to Libya, as well as a place for GNA military personnel to study at the Turkish and Qatari military academies. It is also planned to provide material and technical assistance to the GNA military forces.

According to Daily Sabah, this particular military agreement is similar to the one signed between Baku and Ankara in 1993. Turkish gendarmerie forces started training Azeri servicemen and Azerbaijani army personnel attended trainings as per the agreement. Material and technical support from Turkey to Azerbaijan was also part of the accord. This model of how the Turkish armed forces supported Azerbaijan militarily has been the basis for how Turkey and Qatar will create a regular Libyan army [1].

The GNA military leadership will recruit candidates of different professions to start training at Turkish and Qatari military educational institutions this year. In order to select cadets in Libya, Officers of the General Staff will soon arrive from Ankara and Doha, who will deal with material and financial support of Libyan militants and foreign mercenaries before the establishment of the coordinating operational center. Defense Minister of Qatar in turn, guaranteed the Turkish side the payment of all expenses for the material and technical supply of the armed formations of the GNA. The cost of building new and the reconstruction of existing military infrastructure in Libya will also be taken care of by Qatar.[2].

Moreover, the Turkish naval base and tripartite military coordination center will be set up in the Libyan port of Misrata. Turkey and Qatar intend to build military bases also in Homs and at the Al-Watia base South of Tripoli [3]. Turkish military equipment and various facilities (MIM-23 Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems and drones) were deployed at the air base, which was subjected to air strikes by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar on July, this year [4].

According to the Al-Arabia news website, besides the trilateral agreement, Turkey, Qatar and the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) agreed to issue Libyan passports to Syrian, Somali and Tunisian mercenaries and to integrate them into the GNA military forces. Turkey will train mercenaries within the al-Watiya airbase and Tripoli International Airport with Qatari financial support, who should secure and protect state and military facilities belonging to GNA [5].

According to the Libyan National Army’s data, there are currently 2500-3000 Turkish troops in Libya. According to the US Defense Ministry, Ankara also sent at least 3500 militants to Libya from Syria, and according to the LNA, Ankara and Doha deployed about 30 thousand mercenaries to Libya from Syria and Somali [6].

In addition, the Qatari Government has increased the wages of the foreign militants in order to ensure they stay in Libya [7].  Turkey justifies their military preparations based on the fact that mercenary units of the United Arab Emirates recruited in Syria, Niger and Chad are fighting on the side of LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar [8].

According to some forecasts, Turkish warships will be deployed at the base of Misrata, including an aviation contingent. Libya’s military airfields, will be used by Turkey. According to Kiril Semyonov, head of the Islamic Research Center of the Institute for Innovative Development, it’s significantly more cost saving to use this airbase compared than using the al-Watia, which is located further from Misrata and from the new front line [9].

Experts believe, that after Turkey establishes a naval base, the coastal areas of Libya will actually pass under the full control of Ankara. Turkey’s main goal is to carry out geological exploration and exploitation of the resources of the continental shelf of Libya [10].

Libya is valuable for Turkey with experts noting, that Libya including Somali and Sudan are considered the gateway to the “black continent”. According to the political expert G. Lukyanov, Ankara has been striving hard to enter the African market, and now with Libya under Turkish control, the doors open for the rest of Africa in particular Mali, Niger, Chad, which have large mineral resources.

According to the Orientalist B. Dolgov, the signing of the agreement will exasperate the conflict, as the establishment of military bases is a violation of the agreement adopted at the Berlin Conference. The involvement of Turkey and Qatar in the Libyan conflict will provoke a confrontation between many of these forces that are against Ankara’s policy. Egypt, United Arab Emirates [12], Saudi Arabia [13], Jordan and a number of other European countries are among the handful that are against Ankara.

The conflicting sides signed a ceasefire days after the adoption of the trilateral agreement, however according to expert forecasts, the Libyan forces fighting against each other and the countries supporting them are not ready to compromise and are continuing  to prepare for a resumption of hostilities.  

[1] Turkish military to help establish regular army in Libya

[2] Турция и Катар разместят свои войска в Ливии

[3] Будущее Ливии остаётся под вопросом

[4] В Ливии силы ЛНА нанесли авиаудары по турецким силами на авиабазе Аль-Ватия

[5] Turkey, Qatar agree to provide GNA mercenaries with Libyan citizenship

[6] Доха и Анкара перебросили в Ливию порядка 30 тысяч наемников

[7] Масштабы ливийского кризиса возрастают

[8] Ливия разграничения: почему государству грозит новая вспышка войны

[9] Турция пошла в Ливии по российскому пути

[10] От слов – к делу: Турция готова радикально изменить военный расклад в Ливии

[11] Same link

[12] Мирные инициативы оказались под угрозой из-за противостояния Турции и Катара с Египтом и ОАЭ

[13] Мадхалитский легион ХафтараБудущее Ливии остаётся под вопросом