Underwhelming Turkish Invasion Of Libya

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Underwhelming Turkish Invasion Of Libya

In early 2020, Libya became one of the main hot points in the Greater Middle East with stakes raised by Turkey’s decision to launch a military operation there.

On January 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey had sent troops to Libya to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). No Turkish soldiers will reportedly participate in direct fighting. Instead, they will create an operation center and coordinate operations. Erdogan pointed that “right now”, there will be “different units serving as a combatant force.” He didn’t say who exactly these troops would be, but it is apparent that these are members of Turkish-backed Syrian militant groups and Turkey-linked private military contractors.

Ankara started an active deployment of members of pro-Turkish Syrian militant groups in Libya in December 2019. So far, over 600 Turkish-backed Syrian fighters have arrived. According to media reports, the officially dispatched Turkish troops included military advisers, technicians, electronic warfare and air defense specialists. Their total number is estimated at around 40-60 personnel.

A day after the Erdogan announcement, on January 6, the defense of the GNA collapsed in Sirte and the GNA’s rival, the Libyan National Army (LNA), took control of the town. Several pro-GNA units from Sirte publicly defected to the LNA with weapons and military equipment, including at least 6 armoured vehicles. With the loss of Sirte, only two large cities – Tripoli and Misrata – formally remained in the hands of the GNA. Misrata and its Brigades in fact remain a semi-independent actor operating under the GNA banner.

From January 7 to January 12, when the sides agreed on a temporary ceasefire proposed in a joint statement of the Turkish and Russian presidents, the LNA continued offensive operations against GNA forces near Tripoli and west of Sirte capturing several positions there. The GNA once again demonstrated that it is unable to take an upper hand in the battle against forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The GNA formally requested “air, ground and sea” military support from Turkey on December 26th, 2019, in the framework of the military cooperation deal signed by the sides in November. On January 2, 2020, the Turkish Parliament approved the bill allowing troop deployment in Libya. This move did not change the situation strategically. Even before the formal approval, Ankara already was engaged in the conflict. It sent large quantities of weapons and military equipment, including “BMC Kirpi” armoured vehicles, deployed Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles at airfields near Tripoli and Misrata, and sent operators and trainers in order to assist GNA forces.

Turkey could increase military supplies, deploy additional private military contractors, military advisers and special forces units, but it has no safe place to deploy own air group to provide the GNA with a direct air support like Russia did for pro-Assad forces in Syria. Approximately 90% of Libya is under the LNA control. Tripoli and Misrata airports are in a strike distance for the LNA. Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan refuse to play any direct role in the conflict, while the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is still too far away. Egypt, alongside with the UAE and Russia, is a supporter of the LNA. Therefore, deployment there is out of question.

Turkey operates no aircraft carriers. Its TCG Anadolu amphibious assault ship can be configured as a light aircraft carrier, but the warship isn’t in service yet. It is unclear how Ankara will be able to provide the GNA with an extensive air support without endangering its own aircraft by deploying them close to the combat zone.

Turkey could deploy a naval task force to support the GNA. Nonetheless, this move is risky, if one takes into account the hostile political environment, with Egypt, Cyprus, the UAE and Greece are strictly against any such actions. Additionally, this deployment will go against the interests of other NATO member states such as France and Italy that see the expansion of the Turkish influence as a direct threat to their vital economic interests, especially in the oil business. Warships near the Libyan coast will be put in jeopardy from modern anti-ship measures. Yemen’s Houthis repeatedly proved that missiles could be quite an effective tool to combat a technologically advanced enemy. In the worst-case scenario, the Turkish Navy can suffer notable losses, and the risk of this is too real to tangible to overlook.

Another unlikely option is a large-scale ground operation that will require an amphibious landing. Turkey has several landing ships, the biggest of which are the two Bayraktar-class amphibious warfare ships (displacement – 7,254 tons). There are also the Osman Gazi-class landing ship (3,700 tons), two Sarucabey-class landing ships (2,600 tons). Other landing ships, albeit active, are outdated. With 5 modern landing ships, any landing operation will endanger Turkish forces involved, keeping in mind the complex diplomatic environment and the LNA that will use all means and measures that it has to prevent such a scenario.

In these conditions, the most likely scenario of Turkey’s military operation was the following:

  • Deployment of a limited number of specialists;
  • Public employment of private military contractors’
  • Redeployment of members of pro-Turkish proxy groups from Syria to Libya;
  • Diplomatic and media campaign to secure Ankara’s vital interests and find a political solution that would prevent the LNA’s final push to capture Tripoli. Turkey sees the Libyan foothold and the memorandum on maritime boundaries signed with the GNA as the core factors needed to secure own national interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

This is exactly what Ankara did. On January 8, Turkish and Russian Presidents released a joint statement in which they called for reaching cease-fire in Libya by midnight of January 12. The joint statement emphasized the worsening situation in Libya and its negative impact on “the security and stability of Libya’s wider neighborhood, the entire Mediterranean region, as well as the African continent, triggering irregular migration, further spread of weapons, terrorism and other criminal activities including illicit trafficking,” and called for the resumption of a political dialogue to settle the conflict. The LNA initially rejected the ceasefire initiative, but then accepted it. This signals that key LNA supporters agreed on the format proposed by the Turkish and Russian leaders. On January 13, the delegations of the GNA, the LNA, and Turkey arrived in Moscow for talks on a wider ceasefire deal. The deal was not reached and clashes near Tripoli resumed on January 14.

Russian and Turkish interests are deeply implicated. Some experts speculated the contradictions within the Libyan conflict could become a stone that will destroy the glass friendship between Ankara and Moscow. However, the joint Russian-Turkish diplomatic efforts demonstrate that the sides found a kind of understanding and possibly agreed on the division of spheres of influence. If the Moscow negotiations format allows de-escalating the situation and putting an end to the terrorism threat and violence in Libya, it will become another success of the practical approach employed by the both powers in their cooperation regarding the Middle East questions.

The 2011 NATO intervention led by France, Italy and the United States destroyed the Libyan statehood in order to get control of the country’s energy resources. Now, Egypt, the UAE, Russia and Turkey are driving France, Italy and the US out of Libya in order to put an end to the created chaos and secure own interests.

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  • Karen Bartlett

    I notice that ISIS is right in there with the GNA and therefore Turkey.

    • Rodney Loder

      The thing to remember is LNA is there due to UAE and KSA you might not like Turkey but Iran is the enemy of UAE and is fighting for survival because of GCC support for israel, Putin has always been a traitor and will always be that, it’s just Fate put him on the right side in Syria, Putin is a more staunch a supporter of israel that Trump.

      • Karen Bartlett

        Well, it’s not a matter of liking or not liking Turkey, but that they are supporting terrorists in Syria who torture, starve, imprison, kill, etc. civilians.Who would support that? Maybe Israel would, since they do the same in Gaza and also support HTS and ISIS in Syria. As far a Russia supporting Israel, I don’t see a big Israel lobby or AIPAC influencing the gov’t and elections and military moves in Russia, nor do I see Russia applauding the genocide of Palestinians by Israel as does the US gov’t.

        • Rodney Loder

          Since 1990 the majority of Zionists in israel have become either Russians or Russian supporters since the jew oligarchs that pillaged the Soviet Union parked so much of their wealth in israel that most Zionists support Trump nominally and Putin as de facto ruler, the Russians wouldn’t make a sacrifice for israel but neither would the Yanks.

          Mossad troll you must be joaking Putin is a Mossad agent or not very far off.

          • Karen Bartlett

            Well, perhaps I am mistaken about you working for Mossad, if so, my apologies. There are so many trolls on SF that I may be a little paranoid (not classically so, but in the vernacular.)
            What the Soviet Union did has no bearing on what the Russian Federation does, imo, nor do I believe that Mr. Putin is “not far off” from a Mossad agent.

          • Rodney Loder

            Ok.

          • Z.P.

            Fuck off you terrorist whore!

          • Rodney Loder

            What does Z.P. stand for ?
            Zionist Pig at least your honest, I like that, so I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with you Z.P. my racing bike 250 KTM my car and trailer as well as my 650 RD all got melted in the fire but I still got my house that I saved and my 450 KTM so you send someone or meet me yourself at the Nowra – Motoplex, Braidwood Rd.tomorrow that’s Saturday at 12 o’clock and we’ll sort out any issues we have with each other.

          • Z.P.

            ROT IN HELL YOU BASTARD together with your “Brother Baghdadi” !!!
            Pigs like you should be eliminated as soon as possible !!!

          • Rodney Loder

            I just got back from Heaven on the 15 th September 1950 so I don’t see why Allah (swt) would make me got in hell while I’m doing such a good job saving Civilization, and another thing if I was wrong about anything at all, then how come I’m such a great dirt bike rider on the very best and most challenging Motor Cross track in New South Wales, I won’t be racing tomorrow as I broke my ankle 3 weeks ago at the Nowra MotoPlex Braidwood Rd and can’t get into my riding boots just yet, but the injury doesn’t handicap my punching ability and was the Australian judo Champion before I became a Professional Boxing Trainer.

          • Karen Bartlett

            Oh, so he is a troll. For Israel?

        • Mustafa Mehmet

          you got the bloody wrong information again… just zipped now

    • Mustafa Mehmet

      Yeah OK what else….

      • Karen Bartlett

        That’s enough, isn’t it?

        • Mustafa Mehmet

          No need to comment on your stupid comment..

          • Karen Bartlett

            Are you Turkish?

  • Ole Johansen

    Its a shame how my nation Norway took lead in this horrible operation that led to Libyas fall.

    It created a insecurity in the region not needed and also pawed way for mass emigration from Africa to Europe.

    So the prize is high for all and yet nobody seems to understand that this bloody Stoltenberg is nothing but a jew posing as a Norwegian. He is a infiltrator and a man that will for sure take Europe to war.

    Europe is doomed with the current traitors in lead…

    • Karen Bartlett

      I thought the US under Obama and Clinton took the lead in creating a failed state in Libya.

      • Ivan Freely

        Clinton took the lead while Obama tried to suppress it. I remember Obama getting criticized for talking about leading from behind. European leadership was also heavily involved.

  • Rodney Loder

    Putin if successful in his bid to take control of oil and gas extraction globally will make US Empire look like a benevolent society, fuel is a far greater choke point than finance founded on derivatives ever could be, Saudi Arabia and Putin have a much closer relationship than Assad / Russian relations, Putin will always agree to israeli bombing Damascus but if Turkey replaces KSA as Middle East Leader Putin will crawl away from israel.

    • Ivan Freely

      I don’t believe Putin would crawl away from Israel. Turkey and Israel are competitors.

      • Rodney Loder

        Putin comes from the drunken bum Yeltsin who fired on the Soviet Parliament , loyalty is always contingent of events, Brother Erdogan was OK with Israel until July 15 – 2015 coup when they failed in the Western attempt to kill him, the Brotherhood was pro CIA until Brother Baghdadi who himself was pro Obama and pro Tayyip Erdogan until Putin started bombing Brother Baghdadi’s people which was after Brother Baghdadi stymied al-Nurash Front’s hopes and dreams by successful recruitment that left al-Zawaheri out in the cold, and Sisi was a game changer when he shafted Morsi but then he became the supporter of israel and Saudi Arabia.

        At the moment the Brotherhood and Brother Erdogan are pushing back against KSA and israel, Putin is pro israel and Saudi Arabia acting as a replacement for the USA, his problem is at the moment China can leverage Russia but if Putin replaces the USA Russia will always be in lock step with israel and Germany and dominate Eurasia, following Yeltsin’s plan.

        Iran is the key to seperate israel from the great powers but Iran always hated Gadaffi and now that stops them supporting GNA via Turkey so it’s a precarious moment, the idea is to capitalise on Iran’s position and force Russia and China to choose between Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

        • David Parker

          What was the contention between Qadaffi and Khomeni?

          • Rodney Loder

            A high official went to Libya and disappeared they blamed Gadaffi, probably Gadaffi knew something bad had happened and he tried to cover it up.

        • Z.P.

          ROT IN HELL YOU BASTARD together with your “Brother Baghdadi” !!
          Pigs like you should be eliminated as soon as possible !!!

        • Ronald

          I call you a confusion and miss-information specialist..
          “Brotherhood & Erdogan are pushing back against KSA and Israel”..

          The Brotherhood and Erdogan attack Syria (Shia) from the north, while ISIS from the KSA attack from the south. Both are Salafist Sunni jihadists.
          Why would Shia Iran support the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of the GNA.

          Your last sentence says it all. “The idea is to capitalize on Iran’s position and force Russia and China to choose between Saudi Arabia or Turkey”.
          That is your idea, but China and Russia have wised up to jihadists, they will back the Shia Cresent and its more reasonable form of Islam.

          • Rodney Loder

            I am sponsored by al-Nour (Salafist Call) Egypt with permissions to claim to be The Messiah, but al-Assad and to a lesser extent Brother Erdogan are the hold up, only some Salafists include Abd al-Wahhab in the Jurisprudence of Ahmad b. Hanbal.

            I have the support of a significant majority Chinese Uyghurs and Russian North Caucasian Muslims to take my petition to Damascus but as I say Assad is the biggest hold up, I’ve been in communication with Assad through Sana since 2012 but making little progress..

          • Karen Bartlett

            Sir, your supporters are terrorists.

          • Rodney Loder

            Not everybody is perfect, we all make mistakes sometimes.

    • Karen Bartlett

      I don’t think Israel would seek Mr. Putin’s permission to bomb Damascus.

      • Rodney Loder

        Bombed is the wrong word I should have said missile attack Damascus from Lebanon with small missiles that are hard to detect and intercept, israel has done that after getting Putin’s permission beforehand about 10 times already.

        Putin reluctantly gave Syria an old version of S300 and interacting radar when the Russian Il-20 was accidentally shot down, Sep 2018, before that israel bombing Damascus was much more blatant, Netanyahu would not dream of attacking Syria without Putin’s permission.

        • Karen Bartlett

          Where is your evidence that Israel has gotten Mr. Putin’s permission to attack Damascus?

          • Rodney Loder

            My Companions in Heaven know exactly what is spoken we have jinns listening to Putin and Netanyahu.

            However I don’t always get the correct information because half the time my Companions in Heaven are using reverse psychology to feather their own nest and increase their Divine status, in general though there is consensus that I should maintain Putin and Netanyahu and now Gantz included are pulling the same weight because Putin supports MbS in Saudi Arabia.

          • Karen Bartlett

            Sounds like disinformation from the CIA.

          • Rodney Loder

            China and Russia will go with israel 100% if given The opportunity, Trump disallows that at the moment because he’s trying do the impossible, but Trump migh be finished this year and the NSA will be back with a vengence kissing up with the rational logical alternative which will be game over for Palestinians.

  • BlueHeadLizard

    If Turkish Navy cannot operate off the coast of Libya for fear of Houthi style missiles and upsetting NATO allies then where the hell can it operate, the sea of Marmara?