In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Ahmad Bakhshi, referring to the majority vote of the Egyptian parliament for the intervention of the army in Libya, noted: Because Egypt is located in the east of Libya, and insecurity in Libya has been creating a domino effect in the region for a decade.
“There is a proxy war going on in Libya,” he said, referring to the intervening governments in the country. “However, there is some kind of ideological rivalry behind these interventions,” he noted. Egypt and Turkey have a kind of geopolitical rivalry, they are actors who are homogeneous and in their geographical area, in order to play the role of regional powers, they seek territorialization.
Interference of Egyptian and Turkish Spheres of Influence
“Since the time of Davutoglu, Turkey has sought to revive the Ottoman Empire and increase its strategic depth, and Egypt, as an Arab power, has pursued the same policy,” he said. “Turkey’s sphere of influence and territory is approaching strategic depth and the first influence is Egypt and in some cases they overlap. This interference is exacerbated by the ideological conflict between the two governments.
Bakhshi continued: “After the approval of the Egyptian military presence in Libya, it was announced in Libya that people with military equipment have entered eastern Libya and have become part of Khalifa Haftar’s proxy forces. The forces of Haftar have also announced that they are preparing for a major battle in the cities that have been recaptured by the National Unity Forces in the past few months.
Stating that several scenarios are conceivable, he added: “It is possible to imagine a scenario of direct and cross-border Egyptian intervention in this regard;” because the published pictures and news show that the Egyptian forces have entered Libya after the parliamentary resolution. The Egyptian army is also one of the strongest armies in the region, and it creates this special capacity. Although this possibility is weak, it depends on the actions of actors such as the United Nations, the Libyan government and other intervening countries.
“Given the situation in Egypt and Turkey, there will be no large-scale direct intervention, but it will be a balance that many analysts believe will prolong the war and wage a wide-ranging battle,” he said. Both sides may carry out large-scale operations at different times, but the result will not be good for the Libyan political structure and the end of the crisis. We will see the prolongation of proxy wars, the erosion of the country, the weakening of its internal structures and, most importantly, the creation of a space for the formation and strengthening of terrorist groups and insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa.
Balance between Egyptian and Turkish Armies
“Turkey and Egypt are looking to win the game because they define it as part of their national security,” Bakhshi said. “In addition to its presence, Turkey has held talks with Algeria and Morocco; and Egypt is also making some interventions that exacerbate the crisis.”
“Egypt, despite the capacity of its army, is not yet able to manage several simultaneous threats,” he added. There are still security threats in the Sinai region which have been there from the beginning. Egypt also has challenges with Sudan and Ethiopia; Thus, a balance may be struck between the Turkish and Egyptian armies, which may be in Egypt’s interest in the short term, but in Turkey’s favor in the long term, as Turkey believes that the UN may not approve of Egypt’s intervention, although Turkish intervention was also opposed, but it was said to be supporting a legitimate government.
He reminded that the forces supporting Khalifa Haftar have also come to the conclusion that he is not able to manage the existing spaces and are looking for an alternative for him by buying time, adding: “The United States has adopted a dual policy in Libya. At one time, it supports Khalifa Haftar and some other time backs Faiz al-Siraj with a diplomatic gesture. Egypt, with the help it receives from the United States, will not be able to intervene militarily without the US green light.
Turkey’s Attempt to Avoid Confrontation with Egypt
Emphasizing the need to manage the intervention of regional countries to end the Libyan crisis and help the bankrupt government to counter the emergence of terrorist and social movements, Bakhshi said: “Turkey, in all the signals it has received, is trying to avoid confrontation with Egypt. Ankara says Libya’s legitimate government has asked Turkey to take those measures. Turkey wants to prevent intervention by managing time.
Referring to Davutoglu’s remarks on the need for Turkey-Egypt talks, the university professor continued: “In this context, it seems that the situation in Turkey is being managed so that Egypt and Turkey can reach an agreement in some way.” In this context, the economic issues and problems caused by the corona crisis should also be considered; there may be extremism on both sides, but what Turkish analysts have asked the Turkish government to do is to negotiate to divide its interests with Egypt in Libya.
Egypt-Turkey Confrontation Likely before Talks
Noting that in any case, these issues will be to the detriment of the government and the nation in Libya, he said regarding the chain of Turkey’s aggressive policy in different regions, he stressed the importance of holding Turkish elections in 2023 and the possibility of changing the country’s foreign policy under Erdogan’s rivals. “In this situation, relations with Egypt will change, because Mr. Erdogan’s party rivals also believe that by reducing their ideological burden, they should pursue closer relations with Egypt to reduce regional tensions and adjust their relations on the basis of turnover and economy,” he said. .
Bakhshi added: “Initially the outbreak of clashes between Egypt and Turkey exists on the battlefield, but after a while when the two sides reach a balance in interests and the war turns into one of attrition they will go for negotiations.
However, this also depends on the view of trans-regional competitors such as the United States and Europe. At the same time, Turkey’s domestic vision is to maintain its interests while interacting with regional and international competitors.