I tried to relieve the reader from reading about Libya this week, but accelerating developments have forced me to stop at an idea that perhaps didn't pass the minds of many.
It is about the Turkish insistence on sending ships loaded with weapons and military equipment to the ports of Misrata, Al-Khoms and Tripoli and the Government of National Accord, and the UN mission's persistence in ignoring violations of the embargo imposed on exporting arms.
Many movements confirm that Turkey and Qatar are almost the only two countries supporting the Libyan government without reservations, blessing its alliance with militias and extremists, and providing political cover to conceptions embraced by Ghassan Salamé, the UN envoy to Libya, to empower the current of political Islam at all costs.
They also turn a blind eye towards the successive failures of Salamé’s mission.
These failures have driven this alliance to attempt to alter the scene, which is weighed heavily in favour of Operation Dignity’s aim of liberating Tripoli from the grip of armed gangs.
The military operation carried out by the Libyan National Army has exhausted the militias and dispersed their apparent cohesion, and they only have small numbers left to back up the Government of National Accord.
Hence, its head, Fayez Al-Serraj, has begun demanding Turkish weapons, hoping to change the current situation. He also aims at preventing the remnants of military leaders and terrorists from disbanding.
The arms coming from Ankara won't constitute a big factor in rescuing elements fighting on the side of the Government of National Accord, and could become a precious catch for the national army, whether it destroys them or seizes them as war booty.
Turkey knows that smuggling arms isn't a secret anymore and it doesn’t mind if it is revealed. It is aware of the difficulty of changing the balance of fighting in this primitive way. Rather, it sends weapons in order to assert that it has a long arm in Libya.
Turkey is surrounded by a number of big crises: in Syria, with the USA and several European countries; in the eastern Mediterranean, with Cyprus and Greece; and its own accumulating political and economic problems.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is compelled therefore not to increase the scale of involvement in Libya, where many interests of the aforementioned parties intersect. Ankara stands on the side of the Government of National Accord alliance.
At the same time, it won't think twice about sacrificing this alliance if it will reap the fruits of deceiving others. It is unlikely that it will stop the arms shipments, slow down Islamist leaders’ movements in Istanbul and lessen the travel of hardliners to Libya, if it receives promises for relieving pressures exerted on it in regard to some vital regional issues.
Ankara has broad experience in bargaining and manoeuvring. It has made an understanding with Germany regarding illegal migration and received lucrative financial returns that forced it to end this kind of immigration.
Moreover, it knows that political geography won't allow it to have a big influence in Libya. It perceives that its movements are tactical, not strategic. There are Arab countries that are watching its movements very closely.
Furthermore, Turkey has a strong conviction that some Western countries won't let it threaten their security and economic interests through Libya. If developments allow the increase of Turkey's entanglements in the Libyan arena, at somepoint it will be compelled to exit at any cost.
At this point, Ankara will demand a tempting political price through receiving concessions in other regional issues. Thus, some Libyan forces have made a wrong wager.
Perhaps the Government of National Accord is a victim of Erdogan's policies, as well as being a victim of weak local excuses.
The government insists upon ignoring Turkish opportunism. It thinks that the arms flow is enough to pressure the national army so as to drive it into accepting the UN envoy's calls for a ceasefire, after crimes against humanity that the militias committed and tried to pin them onto the national military institution.
Salamé strives to instigate the international community against the armed forces with no avail, because his movements to empower political Islam are running into difficulties.
He is working on promoting false claims and he has a superb capability to influence the American administration, with Qatari assistance. He has recently met American officials through an arrangement from one of the research centres supported by Doha.
He came out of the meetings in high spirits, while the US standpoint was firm concerning the rejection of the armed militias' and extremists' control and in line with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s movements, which aiming at combating terrorism and ridding the capital’s inhabitants of the armed gangs.
The Tripoli operation is being carried out based upon accurate calculations and led to positive gains so far. It succeeded in getting foreign support, reflected in the coolness with which Al-Sarraj was met by some Western leaders.
Political warmth increased towards Haftar, who reaped internal support, manifested in the people rallying around the armed forces.
Al-Sarraj failed in portraying the operation as a battle between the east and the west, or that Tripoli’s inhabitants are standing united in support of their government.
Hence, he has been quick in paying Libyans’ money to some PR companies, including a contract with an American lobbying firm (Glover Park Group), under the illusion that they can change the stance of President Donald Trump’s administration. In addition, $150,000 was paid to the Wall Street Journal in return for publishing an article he wrote recently.
Ahmed Maiteeq, a member of the Libyan Presidential Council, intends to visit Washington to urge Congress members to rescue the Government of National Accord and help in providing a new security network for the hardliners.
This should be seen in the light of the hardliners confronting a decisive military and political battle which may eradicate their presence in Libya and the entire region, and depriving countries that defended them of any advantages.
Ankara knows that this card has lost much of its power; the impact of its arms is limited, and it is easy to seize them.
If it won’t get out of this dilemma voluntarily, it will find itself amid a series of international pressures that will oblige it to leave Libya empty-handed. This would confirm the failure of those who have put all their eggs in the basket of countries that support terrorism.