Analysis: Could Libya be an early field for the fallout from the Ukraine war? | Politics and Economy | In-depth analysis with a broader perspective from DW | DW

In the north, on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli, and in the south, in the border areas with Chad, the sounds of gunfire have been heard again after a calm of almost two years, since the beginning of the ceasefire between the forces of retired General Khalifa Haftar and the forces loyal to the internationally recognized Tripoli government, which managed, with Turkish support, to repel the attack by Haftar’s forces on The capital, Tripoli, beyond the Sirte line to the east.

And if the recent clashes between armed militias on the outskirts of Tripoli can be understood in the context of the struggle for legitimacy between the internationally recognized government of Abdel Majid al-Dabaiba and the government on the mandate of the Tobruk parliament led by the former Minister of the Interior in the Government of National Accord, Fathi Bashagha, then it coincided with the siege of The rights and oil ports in eastern Libya, and with the security tensions seen in sensitive areas in southern Libya, from the Fezzan- region to the border with Chad, raises questions about the dimensions of these developments, and what they mean in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

A miscalculation of the capabilities of the Dabaiba government?

Following the failure of the United Nations agenda to hold presidential and legislative elections at the end of last year and in the absence of consensus on a constitutional basis between the rival powers, the handshake between former rivals Haftar and Bashagha in Benghazi and their agreement to order the latter to form a new government and gain the confidence of parliament under the leadership of veteran Saleh, the wife of the general’s ally Haftar, an unprecedented attempt to ice the ice between the eastern and western Libyan camps break.

UN envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams

Within a few weeks, however, significant obstacles appeared in the way of this initiative. At the regional level, there were indications that Cairo was behind this initiative, and signs were repeated in the opposite direction, from Ankara and Algeria to cold reactions to the initiative by European and American parties.

Locally, those behind the idea of ​​the new alliance have been miscalculated regarding Dabaiba’s ability to maneuver and employ the forces of the Libyan West traditionally opposed to Haftar, and the ability of his government to continue to support the support of regional parties (Turkey in particular) and other European or Maghreb parties (especially Algeria).

In view of the international preoccupation with the developments of the Ukrainian crisis, the axes of movement of the neighboring Arab countries and those influential in the Libyan comparison have appeared in different directions, while Algeria has moved to Ankara, a remarkable approximation between Cairo and Rabat originate.

Between the jaws of Turkish and Russian seaweed

Given the Russian player’s preoccupation with the war in Ukraine, and the European parties’ focus on confronting the priorities of energy rights, Libya in the current circumstances does not appear to be able to contribute primarily to meeting them. not, due to the difficulty of production for logistical and security reasons and the presence of oil fields and ports in an area mined by the clashing armed forces, especially Including the Russian Wagner forces supporting General Haftar.

Some experts, for example, in the “Gulf Intelligence” group for strategic consultation in the Middle East, believe that the crisis Libyan situation “reduces interest in the Libyan crisis despite its repercussions on oil and gas … Without mediation in the current crisis in Libya we will often have to think that Libya’s oil will not be available to balance the market “to replace Russian oil. The Italians, for example, are the closest European partners to Libya, and tended to ‘ conclude an agreement with Algeria, which “brings them more stable and abundant supplies,” Gulf Intelligence experts say in their monthly report.

Tripoli witnesses clashes between armed factions (Tripoli Airport - 1/6/2017)

Tripoli sees clashes between armed factions

But this analysis gives priority to the comparison of the search for energy supplies, while different security, strategic and economic interests are the motives for the movement of other powers such as Turkey, which apparently tries early to be a beneficiary of the results of the Ukraine war even before the war ends.

The characteristics of the Turkish move can be monitored by various axes, starting with his efforts as a mediator between the Russians and the Ukrainians, sharpening his movements against the Kurds in the Syrian and Iraqi neighborhoods, and putting pressure on his traditional allies within the “NATO” alliance in a sensitive time of conflict with Russia.

In an editorial entitled “Turkish Foreign Policy’s Growing Aspirations” published on May 19, 2022, on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, researcher Kaley Bronson sees that Turkey is expanding its movements beyond its traditional alliances through lines and intersections with the competing forces of the West, especially with China and Russia. .

On Turkish objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, journalist Ozan Demirkan notes in a commentary in the German newspaper Handelsblatt, which is close to business and financial circles in Düsseldorf, that NATO has long ignored Turkey’s crippling power has.” In his article published on May 17, 2022, Demirkan notes contradictions in Erdogan’s policy towards Putin’s Russia, warning that the use of the veto against the two Scandinavian countries’ accession to the alliance does not only endanger their security. , but also offers an unexpected gift to the Russian. president.

As far as the North African region is concerned, the Turkish actions are taking place at the expense of the traditional French and European influence. But at the same time, it plays with Washington a card against the Russian move, and the characteristics of this role appear, especially in Libya. In the light of its settlements with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and its dialogue with Egypt, Ankara seeks among its goals to preserve its interests in Libya, which it has achieved through its military intervention around the government of national accord and its support agreement with him to demarcate maritime borders, and to secure his future role in Libya’s reconstruction plans.

Let European turn

“After President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Berlin immediately after his second term election, and in her first visit outside France after being appointed head of French diplomacy, Caterina Colonna said her arrival in Berlin was a first step.” was self-evident and French-German cooperation is more essential than ever in a time of crisis. ” “.

Moncef Selimi is a journalist specializing in Maghreb affairs at the German DW Foundation

Moncef Selimi is a journalist specializing in Maghreb affairs at the German DW Foundation

Not to mention the great challenges facing Europe as a result of the Ukraine war, the outcome of European policy in the Maghreb region, and especially in Libya, provides a strong example of failure. European influence in Libya has diminished as a result of the policies of individual European countries in dealing with the Libyan file, beginning with NATO’s participation in the overthrow of the regime of the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, ending with the clashing French, Italian and British roles in dealing with the phases of the crisis that have plagued Libya in recent years.

In the last two years of his reign, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, under the auspices of the United Nations, through the Libya Conference in Berlin tried to coordinate the roles of European countries with the United States, especially in the files of disarmament, the expulsion of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, and the security of energy production areas. But the German and European move came late, and its effect on the ground became less effective, especially in the face of Russian and Turkish players.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government appears to be in a race against time today to secure oil and gas supplies. Africa is on its way.

And last month, the Bundestag approved the extension of the mission of the German forces participating in the mission of the European “IRINI” mission charged with the implementation of the UN arms embargo to Libya.

Europeans are realizing that Libya is a key to Europe’s security, given its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and its thousands of kilometers of borders with Sudan, Chad and Niger, and beyond the turbulent Sahel and Sahara region.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz in an interview with DW South Africa (May 2022)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz in an interview with DW in South Africa

Chancellor Schulz emphasized this during his visit to his country’s forces participating in the United Nations counter – terrorism forces in the Sahel and Sahara region, but at the same time emphasized the support for democracy, and that his first Africa tour Africa democracies included. Germany and its European partners’ concerns about Russia’s role in the region are not hidden.

During the last few years, the Russians have been able to achieve security breakthroughs in Libya and Central Africa, and Russia has directly or through the Wagner mercenaries supported military coups in a number of West African countries and the Sahel region, the most recent being Mali. . , which forced France to withdraw its forces from it earlier this year, followed by a German withdrawal from the training program for the Malian forces, but it will continue its commitment within the UN MINUSMA mission.

German policy in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa is facing increasing problems, not only because of the repercussions of the Ukraine war, but also because of the difficulty of crystallizing a clear European policy there, at least in the given the problems the French are facing. partner in its former colonies and the growing tendency against French influence. This is what analysts infer from Schulz’s statements in his interview with DW during his visit to South Africa, that “Germany wants a long-term commitment in the region, building a multipolar world that is not limited to just two or three countries. is not controlled, “and stressed. the need to listen to African partners. One of the most prominent features of Schulz’s policies is that he can no longer move in the face of France’s one-sided military and political leanings, as former Chancellor Merkel did, either in the sub-Saharan region or in Libya.

In view of the inability of the Libyans to crystallize a local initiative to agree and rebuild their country, and the absence of an active European role in the Libyan file, European capitals will find themselves obliged to take the initiatives of regional players to monitor or drive. the international train moving in Libya under the command of the American locomotive, by UN envoy Stephanie Williams, whose mission is dominated by the role of extinguishing the fires of the burning collisions at the expense of plans to put an end to the crisis besleg all.

Meanwhile, European capitals are watching the efforts Williams is making from Geneva to Toledo, Spain, to Bouznika, Morocco, offering a dialogue between representatives of the military forces in eastern and western Libya.

Moncef Al-Sulaimi

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