Failed Show Of Power By Libyan National Army Increases Chances Of Turkish Attack On Sirte

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On July 19, the Libyan National Army (LNA) test-fired the Soviet-era P-15 Termit anti-ship missile near Zawiyat Zanzur, on the Libyan coast.

The P-15 Termit is guided by active radar homing and equipped with an inertial navigation system. Missiles of this type have a range between 35 and 80 km depending on the variant and a top speed of Mach 0.95. The Gaddafi-era Libyan Navy had large stockpiles of P-15 missiles and also operated an unknown number of 4K51 Rubezh coastal defense systems, which were armed with an advanced copy of the missile. Thus, the LNA may have access to at least a part of these stockpiles.

The test-launch of the anti-ship missile was presented by pro-LNA sources as a message to Turkey that its warships deployed near the Libyan shores will become the target of anti-ship missile launches should they try to support the attack by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord on the port city of Sirte. However, the test-launch had a quite different effect when on July 20 the video from the test site leaked online. It showed that the missile fell just a few moments after launching putting in question any potential anti-ship missile capabilities of the LNA.

Meanwhile, tensions within the LNA factions erupted in al-Brega, where the Al Saiqa Brigade was demanding the release of several affiliated people from custody. As of July 22, the area still remains the focal point of tensions.

Such failed missile tests and other demonstrations of issues within the LNA only strengthen the Turkish commitment to launch a full-scale attack on the port city of Sirte. According to Turkish media, Ankara is deploying T-155 Fırtına howitzers and T-122 Sakarya multiple launch rocket systems to the frontline west of the port city. The largest convoy with Turkish weapons and equipment arrived at the frontline from Misrata, an important logistical hub for Turkish supplies, on July 18. Nonetheless, reinforcements and weapons continued pouring into the western countryside of Sirte.

Right now, the main factor deterring further escalation is Egypt’s strong position describing a potential Turkish attack on Sirte or Jufra as a red line after which it would directly intervene in the conflict on the side of the LNA. On July 21, Egypt’s Parliament already approved “sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces’ mission ends.” Thus, a preparatory attack on Sirte risks turning into a military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt on a Libyan battleground. The Erdogan government has not demonstrated readiness for such a scenario. However, if the LNA carries out some more failed missile tests like the one on July 19, Ankara may just take that risk.

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  • Vince Dhimos

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the failed tests. UAE will probably help Haftar acquire modern Russian missiles.

    • Looking at the situation of the LNA realistically, an invasion of Egypt is the only scenario with possible prospects of success. Sirte, as well as al-jufra and al-wahat territory, are probably essential to President Erdogan’s plans.

      • Vince Dhimos

        I guess you mean an invasion of Libya BY Egypt?

      • Mustafa Mehmet

        Egypt should clear Israel Egypt border first from Isis they can’t even do that they Walk Like an Egyptian Talk Like an Egyptian run like Egyptian. There Army useless.. just remember 6-day war with Israel 😂

    • Mustafa Mehmet

      If they know how to use it… don’t worry, mujahedin army will take over all the missiles they know how to use it

  • Icarus Tanović

    Well, somebody better show them how ro use these missiles, because they are pretty formidabl and Libya have large stockpiles of these.
    This could make Turkey thinks twice.
    These are old Soviet, but very good ones.

    • Mustafa Mehmet

      No prop re ovic

  • Brother Ma

    I hope that the LNA has been resupplied or retrained all this time as allowing Turkey to keep sending in weapons and troops is a bad sign indeed.

  • cechas vodobenikov

    most of Libyan oil is controlled by clans in LNA regions. Will turkey provoke a war w Egypt? doubtful. their military is larger and better equipped—-supply lines and logistics less cumbersome than for Turkey

    • I find it difficult to estimate the real fighting strength of the egyptian army. But I am not an expert on Egypt either. For example, what about exercises, frequency of maneuvers, morale and so on.

      As for Turkey, without these areas starting with Sirte, Erdogan’s overall plan is difficult to implement, isn’t it?