Skip to main content

Can Turkey double down in Libya game?

Under attack by Khalifa Hifter’s forces, Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli has pinned its hopes on Turkey, but despite its forceful rhetoric of support, Ankara can hardly tip the balance in Tripoli’s favor.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Mohammed Siyala (R), foreign minister in Libya's new U.N.-backed national unity government, in Tripoli, Libya, May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny - S1BETHAIQPAA
Read in 

It is hardly an auspicious time for geostrategic adventures for Turkey. The governance mess after the country’s transition to an executive presidency system, a worsening economic downturn and mounting political tensions since the March 31 local polls require Turkey to focus on its domestic woes. Yet, on top of its Syrian stalemate and soon after landing in the losers' club in Sudan, Ankara is cruising into another regional crisis — the one in Libya.

Turkey came back into the spotlight in Libya’s conflict after Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Hifter launched an offensive on Tripoli April 4, having taken control of two-thirds of the country, backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj and backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, has pinned high hopes on Turkey. Sarraj, who has mounted a counter-operation to defend Tripoli, asked Ankara for support in an April 28 phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.