By sending troops to Libya, Erdogan is risking a major Mediterranean conflict

By Ahmed Abou
Dec. 18, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan is upping the ante in Libya, shipping drones, tanks, special forces and commando units to the conflict-ravaged North African country. It seems he’s bidding to create a single strategic deadlock by merging two brewing conflicts: one in Libya, and one in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As Turkey’s military incursion against the Kurds in Northern Syria loses momentum, political tensions are rising on the domestic front. To help defuse them, Erdogan is looking for a joker in the pack in the form of a foreign enemy. And now, he seems to have chosen one.

On Sunday, Erdogan announced that Turkey is ready to send troops to Libya to prop up the UN-recognised government against a military offensive by general Khalifa Haftar that started last week.

But by acting out of his growing sense of insecurity and isolation, Erdogan hasn’t made just one overseas adversary; he’s infuriated most of his neighbours too.

Haftar’s fresh campaign was triggered by a new security deal signed by Ankara and the Tripoli government. The two sides have drawn up a memorandum of understanding to secure drilling rights in the Mediterranean.