Date: Monday, 03 August 2020
While Arab and non-Arab states continue to bleat about a political solution being the only remedy for the Libyan conflict, Turkey has sent a new batch of Syrian mercenaries and jihadists of various nationalities to Libya, taking the total to 17,000.
A report by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) dated 1 August said the SOHR had “monitored the arrival of a new batch of Ankara-backed factions comprising hundreds of fighters of Syrian nationality, as well as the arrival of a number of other foreign jihadists”.
According to the SOHR, the number of jihadists — as opposed to outright mercenaries — sent by Turkey to Libya has reached 10,000, of whom 2,500 are Tunisians.
Known for its accurate reporting, the SOHR is widely quoted by Western media when it reports on the casualties of Syrian regime or Russian military action against Islamist terrorists in Syria but is universally ignored by these selfsame media when it documents Turkey’s destructive role in Libya.
The clock is ticking for Libya and soon the possibility of permanent division between an American-backed Turkish-occupied western Libya and an Egyptian/Russian protectorate in the east will become a probability.
By now the broad outlines of the international dimensions of the Libyan conflict have become much clearer than they had been just a few months ago. These dimensions must be fully absorbed and understood by Libyans if they are to salvage what remains of their country.
First, European states, including Britain, must not be taken seriously. Italy is a not-so-secret supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda coalition masquerading as the “Government of National Accord” (GNA) and led by the Turkish vassal Fayiz al-Sarraj, as evidenced by its military presence in the Islamist hub of Misrata. Britain takes its cue as always from Washington and has no independent foreign policy as such. France, on the other hand, is a fair-weather friend, supporting the elected Libyan parliament and its armed force, the Libyan National Army (LNA), when they are doing well militarily but shying away when difficulties arise.
Second, the European Union is the joker in the pack. In April it launched Operation IRINI to monitor violations of the United Nations embargo on military assistance to the conflicting parties in Libya. That is the beginning and end of its role, observing, apparently to no end other than ticking boxes. It was not for nothing that it was described by a Libyan academic as a European April Fools joke.
Third, the US is openly supportive of Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda coalition — that much was clear from an interview given by David Schenker, an Israel lobbyist working as US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, to France 24 TV on 28 May and from the various propaganda bursts of the US’s African intervention force, Africom. The Americans suffer from a Russia Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a Cold War mindset of fear of the Russians successfully challenging their international hegemony. This has been accentuated lately by the American elites’ realisation that their country is in long-term decline and on an inexorable path to relegation from superpower to regional power and, eventually, to a failed state.
Fourth, Libyans must have no illusions about Russia. To get a clue as to Moscow’s probable course of action in Libya, they have only to look at its activities in Syria, where it has been collaborating with Turkey to apportion spheres of control in the north of the country. Looking farther afield, in Russia’s own backyard, Moscow has been quite content with states of no war, no peace — frozen conflicts — in the Dniester region of Moldova, in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and now in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. So, it is conceivable that Russia could reach an accommodation with Turkey whereby it would accept a US-backed Turkish Islamist protectorate in western Libya and a Russian one in the east of the country.
Finally, we come to Egypt, the one country which could have been a “game changer” in Libya. Unfortunately for Libyans, the prospects of Egypt acting as a saviour of their country’s independence and territorial integrity may have already passed. There are many doubters of the Egyptian armed forces’ capabilities, given their history of blunders, but the problem here is not military — it is political. Whatever its weaknesses, the Egyptian army has the capability to obliterate the GNA’s shambolic and effectively leaderless Islamist and crime syndicate militias in days, and pave the way for the LNA to take over the territories liberated from the militias. Rather, the problem is the absence of the will to act decisively in a matter that ultimately will impact directly on Egyptian national security.
On 21 June Egyptian President Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi warned that Sirt and Al-Jufra airbase constitute a red line for Egypt and that if the Turkish-sponsored terrorists entered those locations Egypt would intervene militarily. That warning is in itself an acknowledgement that Egypt is not averse to the division of Libya into eastern and western sectors. The opportunity for an Egyptian intervention that would preserve Libya’s independence and territorial integrity expired in January when German Chancellor Angela Merkel, probably acting on behalf of the Americans, came up with the idea of the Berlin conference, a formula for endless, pointless talks modelled after the disastrous, decades-long Palestinian-Israeli “peace process”.
Libya’s problem is a security problem that requires a military solution. In the west of the country are the Turkish-sponsored Islamist cutthroats of the Muslim Brotherhood and their crime syndicate allies, now backed by nearly 20,000 Syrian mercenaries and other Turkish-trained jihadists. In the east is the elected parliament and its armed force, the LNA, which succeeded in cleansing that part of the country of the Islamist terrorists. It should be obvious to everyone that there cannot be a political accommodation with the Islamist terrorists — the Muslim Brotherhood and its protégés — not in Libya or any other country. To reach a political accommodation with the Muslim Brotherhood is akin to asking the US White House to share power with the drugs mafia or urge Westminster to enter talks with the jihadist Anjem Choudary. Therefore, Libya’s elected authorities and their army, the LNA, must seize every opportunity to arm and train themselves to fight for their country’s freedom, independence and territorial integrity. This is their fight for survival, not Washington’s, Brussels’s or Moscow’s.