When Turkey took to the stage in Libya upon the call of the Libyan public, the established order of invasion and division fully collapsed. The image of hungry wolves flocking to plunder a weakened country without a leader is the most striking picture depicting the situation in Libya.
Countries such as France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose purpose in the region has no other justification than to loot resources, were striving to realize this through Khalifa Haftar, whom they support. Haftar, on the other hand, backed by this foreign power – and not the Libyan public –considered dialogue a waste of time, and by-passed the people’s true representatives in efforts to complete his invasion. The physical power he possessed provided him the chance to be a party to the war. However, he attempted to turn this position into a power monopoly by completely denying the other side’s existence. He declared Libya’s only UN-recognized legitimate government as a “terrorist,” and tried to destroy it. He thus showed the most striking example of how the “terrorist” label is instrumentalized and watered down in the hands of blood-shedding coup plotters, who are guilty of committing war crimes.
Turkey’s incursion in Libya upon the people’s call was a complete game-changer. Now, Haftar is being treated as a war criminal, who committed crimes against humanity, just as he deserves. Thus, dialogue platforms, where Libya’s future is discussed by Libyans, where they can make their own decisions with respect to their own destiny, are up and running again.
Turkey’s mission and claim in Libya is not to take control over the country but to give it back completely to Libyans. This consistency makes Turkey the sole legitimate force and strongest presence in its mission in Libya. Now, the path allowing Libyans alone to decide on Libya’s future is wide open.
Meetings were held in Tunisia under the auspices of the UN within this context last week for the Libyan sides to determine a roadmap. Initially, according to the roadmap determined as a result of the meetings held with the objective to end the crisis, and solve the military, political and economic problems at once, a vote of confidence will be held for the new government to be established. The government will remain in office for a maximum period of 18 months. The prime minister will have two assistants from two different regions. The parliament and High State Council of Libya will establish a Constitutional Committee of 60 people within 60 days from the establishment of government, and kick off the process for the new constitution. In the event that constitutional activities do not end within seven months, the “Libyan Political Dialogue Forum” will step in, and swiftly carry out the legal regulations necessary to hold the elections with politicians and bureaucrats.
Of course, signs of France and the UAE infiltrating the meeting with their lobbying operations in order to gain the superiority they lost on the ground are a serious source of concern. Besides their clear intentions being revealed in this regard, the course they’ve taken so far indicates that they will continue to pursue the same path.
Considering the process that led to the current state of affairs in Libya, it is clear how the UAE in particular, as a source of disorder, dragged the situation in Libya to a dead end. You will remember that the UN secretary general in 2014 made striking claims concerning relations between Bernardino Leon, who was appointed as special representative for Libya, and the UAE. In fact, when it was revealed that Leon was on a lucrative salary from the UAE, it became clear enough who was responsible for what in Libya, and on behalf of whom.
It is necessary to remember that the same Leon was the UN’s special representative at the time Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi carried out the well-known coup in Egypt, as well as his operations here. In a sense, Leon was the architect of the view that “this is Egyptians’ internal affair,” which developed in Europe after the coup. Yet, his contribution to the process leading up to the coup shows that he did not view this as an internal matter and, in fact, that he played a role in the coup. Leon had paid a visit to every faction that was hesitant about joining the revolt movement, which developed against Mohamed Morsi ahead of the coup, and convinced them to join. For example, it is said that he persuaded relatively more democratic figures such as Mohamed El Baradei and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh that this would not be a coup but rather remain as an operation to co-erce Morsi to hold early elections, and guarantee that elections will be held in no later than six months. Thus, it becomes self-evident, primarily through his dirty relations with the UAE, in whose name, why, and based on what authority Leon was able to give such a guarantee.
This provides a noteworthy example of how Europe contributed to the anti-democracy coup processes in the Middle East – even though it was done through the hands of such dirty representatives. This example is only one page of the dirty history Europe needs to confront. Now, we need to be on full alert in order to prevent anti-democracy forces such as the UAE and EU from negating all the gains Turkey has achieved on the ground on behalf of the Libyan people.
Note: For further information on BM and EU Special Representative Bernardino Leon’s role in Egypt and Libya, please refer to the report titled, “Paylaşılamayan Enkaz: Libya,” prepared by Lokman B. Çenkaya and Deniz Baran of Fatih Sultan Mehmet University, International Law Research Center (UHAM).