12/30/2019, 18.26
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Erdogan's dream in Tripoli divides the Arab world

by Pierre Balanian

The Turkish president wants to establish an (economic) caliphate in Libya where the Ottoman Empire began its implosion. “Ataturk was wounded in Libya,” he said. The Turkish parliament is set to vote 2 January on sending troops to Libya. However, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Libyans themselves are against it. Erdogan's only ally is Qatar. Sunnis are divided.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) – Rain and icy cold have curbed fighting in the suburbs of Tripoli this morning, after the Libyan National Army of Gen. Khalifa Haftar seized the airport two days ago.

Certain European states are worried about the situation in the country, especially Italy and France, as their role appears increasingly weak, indecisive and irrelevant on the ground.

Much more powerful and effective are the actions of Russia, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, not to mention Algeria.

For Erdogan’s Turkey, this is an opportunity to return to Libya and use it as a springboard to build an economic caliphate 108 years after Italy took the country from the Ottoman Empire, setting in motion its collapse and dismemberment.

Two days ago, Erdogan harangued crowds in Ankara, noting that "Ataturk was wounded in Libya". Barring surprises, his proposal to send Turkish troops to save Fayez al-Sarraj’s government will be approved.

According to Turkish sources, Haftar’s military successes, with its forces getting closer to the centre of the capital, will force the Turkish parliament to vote as early as 2 January, before the end of the Christmas break scheduled for 8 January.

Italy has warned Turkey not to get militarily involved in Libya, but Ankara is basing its action on a request for intervention by the Libyan government, following on an agreement signed but never ratified by the Libyan parliament, between Turkey and Libya’s internationally recognised government.

Meanwhile, sources have told AsiaNews Cyprus plans to start diplomatic action to end the international recognition of Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA). In fact, except for Qatar, Turkey has failed to find allies and is isolated in its madcap adventure in Libya; even Russia, its powerful ally in Syria, is critical of Turkish plans.

Ankara’s attempts to create an alliance with Tunisia, but especially with powerful Algeria have come to nought. After Tunisia, Algeria yesterday officially expressed its opposition to any Turkish military intervention in whatever form.

In a silent but eloquent act, Algeria yesterday deployed missile launchers along its eastern border pointing at Libya, and this morning some news agencies have reported that Algeria’s High Security Council met and decided for general mobilisation.

Today Algerian media highlighted the government’s refusal to internationalise the Libyan question, whose current situation, with threats of foreign military intervention, represents a threat to Algerian national security.

After the refusal by Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the opposition of traditionally pro-Saudi Egypt and Morocco, and with more than half of the Libyan population in favour of Haftar, and the Libyan people as a whole opposed to foreign military occupation, Turkey finds itself at loggerheads with the whole of North Africa, splitting Sunnis, already divided between those who are inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and those who follow Wahhabism.

For its part, Italy continues to maintain the view that there is no solution in Libya except through dialogue and looks forward to the conference on the Libyan crisis set to open in Berlin on 8 January.

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