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Erdogan’s Libya Campaign Puts Africa on the Brink of War

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Turkish intervention in Libya has not only significantly influenced the situation in the country but has also had a disproportional impact on the regional security

Nine years after the fall of Gaddafi Libya has not succeeded in rebuilding its state institutions from scratch, yet alone in adopting Western-style democracy. In fact, inherent political tensions between local power brokers have only turned more acute. Fierce turf wars brought the country into a stalemate, disrupting any effort to overcome the ongoing economic and social crisis.

The complete collapse of the state created a friendly environment for the terror groups and the proliferation of various radical ideologies. At the highest level of the erosion of social and political institutions a war-torn Libya became a battlefield for the external powers pursuing their adventurist foreign policy ambitions.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is widely considered one of the most bellicose actors involved in the Libyan conflict. Ankara backs the UN-recognized Government of the National Accord (GNA) who employs radical factions. Turkey flies in thousands of Syrian mercenaries and advanced weapons to Libya to support the GNA’s offensive against the Libyan National Army (LNA) and legitimate Tobruk-based Libyan Parliament.

Turkey’s choice of allies in the Libyan conflict is not surprising. Ankara cares very little for the Libyan people as there is nothing in common between Turks and Libyans except the colonical legacy of the Ottoman Empire. It is fair to say that the Turks back the GNA with the sole purpose of countering Egypt and the Gulf monarchies, who oppose Erdogan’s hostile foreign policy.

Turkey – Egypt tensions: origin and perspectives

The relations between Turkey and Egypt quickly deteriorated after the Egyptian Field Marshal Abdul Fattah Al Sisi removed from power the Turkey-backed President Mohamed Morsi back in 2013.

Morsi and his supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood had seized power in the country due to Turkish meddling in 2011 amid large-scale protests. However, after the two-year-long reign of the Turkish appointee the Egyptian military managed to reclaim power and declared a “cold war” on Turkey countering the Turkish propaganda and Ankara-backed Islamic radicals with both military and political means. The tensions between Egypt and Turkey have been rising ever since, putting the two countries on the brink of war in Libya.

Late June Abdul Fattah Al Sisi said that Egypt was prepared to launch a military intervention in the neighbouring Libya because of a direct threat to his country’s security. He also called the GNA’s attempts to capture Sirte town and Jofra airbase a “red line” for Cairo. Such statements demonstrate Egypt’s deep concern about the Turkish quest for dominance in Libya that manifested itself in breaking a deadlock in a struggle between the GNA and LNA. However, Turkey had to pay a hefty price for the recent victories as it deployed its national Armed Forces to Libya despite the rapid deterioration of the economy, in addition to sending thousands of the Syrian mercenaries and modern weapons to its Islamist-weighted ally GNA.

Turkey and Egypt are almost equal in their military capabilities, but Cairo has a number of strong advantages. First, Egypt has a 1,115 km long land border with Libya. It significantly simplifies the logistics and deployment of the Egyptian armed forces. Besides, Cairo will definitely benefit from unique opportunities offered by Mohamed Nagib, the biggest Middle East military base located not so far from the Libyan border. As for Turkey, it has to overcome a lot of obstacles due to its geographical position. Put simply, the only locations able to receive the Turkish troops and the Syrian mercenaries are two cities of Tripoli and Misrata that both have an airport and a seaport. The Turks are literally trapped in this “bottleneck”. Direct confrontation with Cairo will most likely result in Ankara’s military defeat – due to the above-mentioned considerations the Egyptians are potentially capable of eliminating the Turkish troops faster than Turkey deploys reinforcements to Libya.

Besides, the Egyptian Armed Forces have acquired modern combat experience during the on-going Sinai operation against ISIS terrorists. To be fair, the Turks have also deployed their national troops to Syria and Libya, but they primarily act as advisers and are focused on local special operations, patrolling and militia training. As for the Egyptians, they operate in a classic military paradigm.

It should be noted that Al Sisi does not plan to limit himself with traditional warfare tactics. During a recent meeting with the Libyan tribal leaders the Egyptian President announced that Cairo intended to start training the Libyan militias loyal to LNA and supplying them with weaponry and equipment. These measures will allow Al Sisi to enhance the battle capabilities of his allies in addition to a possible direct military intervention.

Stakes in the Libyan conflict are rising

Even with these Egypt’s advantages in mind Al Sisi is not likely to ignite a war with one of the most powerful armies in the region. However, the Egyptian leader clearly delineated his “red lines” and is now waiting for Erdogan’s move.

Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar signed an agreement on military cooperation with the representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA) during his visit to Tripoli on July 4th. The deal between Turkey and Tripoli authorities stipulates that the GNA is “a guarantor of the Turkish interests in Libya”. The GNA also gave Turkey an official permission to establish military bases on the Libyan territory and granted Turkish troops diplomatic immunity and a number of important privileges.

As for the Eastern-based Parliament, in a resolution passed last Monday, the House of Representatives authorised Egyptian armed forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt if they see an imminent danger to both of our countries”.

MENA witnesses a new critical challenge while the two most powerful countries in the region are marching to war. Will the Turkish President face Egypt’s army or will he resort to negotiations with the Arab states? Both scenarios will definitely shift the balance of power on the Libyan battlefield as well as in the whole region.

Alaeddin Saleh is a Libyan journalist with a long track record of studying and covering Libya and the MENA

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The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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