Conflict and Fragility

Policy briefs

Turkey’s interventions in its near abroad: The case of Libya

16 Sep 2021 - 17:18
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The strategic objectives of the Turkish military intervention in Libya in 2019–2020 in favour of the Government of National Accord (GNA) were geopolitical (establishing an entry point into Africa in addition to Somalia), geo-economical (related to gas exploration in the Mediterranean) and commercial (facilitating repayment of outstanding business debts and enabling future profits). The deeper drivers of Ankara’s intervention include a mix of more assertive nationalism based on a hegemonic conception of Turkey’s ‘near abroad’, a perceived need to counter the military campaign of the Libyan National Army (LNA)’s to conquer Tripolitania, and Turkey’s exclusion from Mediterranean gas politics. Ankara’s intervention and its institutionalisation proved effective in counterbalancing the LNA and its international backers – chiefly Russia and the UAE, but also France and Egypt – and produced a more stable political situation in the process. While Turkey has achieved its short- to medium-term objectives and is likely to retain a substantial permanent military, commercial and political presence in Libya, it also created tensions with the EU and US as well as antagonizing the LNA’s international backers. In brief, an improvement in Turkey’s geostrategic position might have come at the cost of its regional strategic relations.

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