Turkish interference triggers public anger in Libya

The military pact and maritime agreement signed between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Libyan prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj sparked public anger in Libya. The agreement allowed Erdogan to send Turkish troops in Libya where people of the African country feared it would further escalate the conflict instead of doing any good to them.

The Sarraj-led government of national accord (GNA) is backed by the United Nations but unfortunately not by his own people, which has left Libya in a state of civil war for years. Libyans took to social media criticizing the GNA for selling out to Turkey. Trying to calm the public anger at home, the GNA denied that the memoranda were legally binding. Sarraj’s government claimed that the document signed by the two would hold legal significance when ratified by the legislators of both countries. What made GNA turn red with embarrassment was their trick to calm people down ignited them altogether when Turkey published the document approved by the parliament.

Sarraj reached out to Erdogan to combat the rebellious forces led by Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar. The signed treaty revealed that to defeat Haftar’s Libyan national army (LNA), GNA gave out Turkey access to the sea borders between the two which Erdogan never had. It put the GNA in an even more embarrassing position.

In exchange for weapons, intelligence devices and military guidance to Libya, Erdogan gained an upper hand in the Eastern Mediterranean which is a gold mine in terms of offshore energy exploration. Under Serraj’s rule, Turkey views Libya as part of its extended hinterland in the eastern Mediterranean and a gateway to Africa, an economically viable market. Eastern Libya’s interim government, which is not recognized internationally, called it an illegal agreement.

Besides over a majority of people in Libya, the military pact between the two countries was also criticized by the regional powers including Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, and Israel for jeopardizing European security. Greece condemned the agreement and even expelled the Libyan ambassador. Egypt and Cyprus also strongly expressed their disapproval of the new tie-up but did not take any strict against the GNA. The Cypriot foreign ministry said in a statement that the “Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed has no legal validity and can’t undermine the rights of Cyprus.” Egypt also questioned the legality of the document saying that the Libyan Political Accord, that laid the foundation for the origin of GNA, does not give the Libyan prime minister any “right to sign” such documents.

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