Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Reza Abedi Gonabad, referring to Turkey’s position and measures regarding Libya and its military presence in that country, said: Turkey initially supported the Gaddafi regime because of its economic problems and investments in Libya, but following popular discontent and some protests it changed some of its policies and returned to the Libyan equation by supporting its like-minded currents.
Turkey seeks long-term presence in Libya
He said Turkey’s policies in Libya were influenced by economic interests, especially in the field of energy and fossil fuels, as well as domination over parts of the Mediterranean due to competition in the region, adding that Turkey was seeking a long-term presence in Libya, or if there is a consensus for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Libya, it has at least guaranteed its own interests.
Referring to the role of regional and trans-regional countries in Libya and its impact on the unrest and civil war in the country, the analyst of Turkish affairs said: Under these circumstances, and given some international pressures, Turkey has shown that if its interests in Libya regarding political influence as well as participation in economic, trade, development and energy projects are maintained, it is ready to leave Libya.
Abedi Gonabad, saying that a more pessimistic scenario could be imagined, added: If the crisis in Libya intensifies and the cost of Turkey’s presence in that country increases, given that Turkey has embarked on extensive ambitions in different parts, it may decide to leave Libya due to the rising economic costs and manpower losses.
Referring to Turkey’s efforts to play a role in some areas, including Karabakh and Syria, he said: Inside Turkey, this military and security presence is supported by some not only Islamist currents, but especially nationalist currents that are now allies of Mr. Erdogan’s government, and an important part of the structure of society, culture and public opinion of Turkey. In fact, the nostalgic look at the history of the Ottoman Empire has led nationalist currents to combine with some Islamist views to support Turkey’s expansionist policies.
Referring to the talks between Turkey and Egypt and its role in the Libyan crisis, the analyst of Turkish affairs added: There are serious differences between Turkey and Egypt, and in particular the outlook of Mr. Erdogan and the AKP Party, towards the Egyptian government. Relations between the two countries, in recent years and after the coup in Egypt, have been mostly tense or optimistically very cold in various aspects.
Turkey’s proximity to Egypt and Saudi Arabia after Biden’s victory
Abedi Gonabad described Biden’s victory in the US election and Turkey’s fear of some of the Democrats highly critical stances against Ankara, as well as imposition of some sanctions, as a factor in the country’s efforts to get closer to Egypt and even Saudi Arabia and said: Turkish officials are trying to use their regional card and capacity as much as possible to thwart attempts of the United States and some circles in the West and even the European Union, which are allied with the Democrats in controlling Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.
He stressed: It seems that the combination of those factors led to an attempt to start negotiations between Egypt and Turkey and a series of rapprochements between them.
He referred to the postponement of security talks between Egypt and Turkey and continued: Due to differences between al-Sisi and Erdogan, the ice of the relations has not been broken yet. At the same time, Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, including its oil and exploration activities, as well as its operations in Libya, have effectively escalated tensions between the two sides to some extent and halted security talks.
Turkey, Egypt inevitably to negotiate on common issues, interests
The university professor, meanwhile, referred to the Egyptian foreign minister’s readiness to hold talks with Turkey, saying the two sides needed to negotiate issues and common interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa, and it seemed that the differences would continue to subside and the dominance of a realistic outlook of the two sides and determination of Mr. Biden’s precise policy in this region, especially in North Africa and the Mediterranean, we will see the proximity of Egypt and Turkey.
He stressed: If Turkey wants to gain influence and foothold in North Africa and the Arab world, it must definitely work with the Egyptians and on the other hand, the Egyptians ultimately have interests in Libya and the Mediterranean, and also pursue trade with Turkey; which forces them to interact with Turkey. The joint ventures that Turkey has particularly in Egypt, will definitely bring the two countries closer together.
Referring to Egypt’s economic problems and the need for Turkish investment in that country, the expert on Turkey’s affairs continued: The Egyptians are definitely sensitive to the developments in Libya and are worried that the crisis and issues of Libyan would be transferred to their country; therefore, it is possible that in the near future we will see the beginning of negotiations and somehow redefine the cooperation between Egypt and Turkey, the two active players in the Libyan equation.