Western Libya Operation (2019)
Image by Rr016
The conflict in northern Libya has reached a new level of tension as two Turkish soldiers supporting the UN-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA, were reported killed today. The GNA is fighting Russian-backed mercenaries led by General Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan National Army, or LNA.
“We have two martyrs of ours there (Libya),” Turkish President Recep Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara.
The GNA is actively lobbying Washington, D.C. for help in the conflict.
“While Khalifa Haftar aspires to overrun Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord and rule Libya with an iron fist, his foreign backers are far more concerned with their own economic and strategic interests,” observed Brad Gerstman, a lobbyist representing the GNA.
Gerstman is a founding partner of Gotham Government Relations & Communications, which has previously represented the Trump Organization and currently represents the UN-recognized GNA in the United States.
Gerstman asked: “What interest do outside powers like Russia and UAE have in preventing Libya from stabilizing and developing as a sovereign, independent state? While DP World seeks to dominate ports and boost its investment across Africa, Russia wants control over Libya’s oil reserves resources — the largest in Africa — and naval access along the southern Mediterranean. The fact that Moscow has potential replacements for Haftar waiting in the wings, including Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, reflects Vladimir Putin’s lack of concern for Libya’s future, as long as Russia gets what it needs.”
“The GNA has made clear that, while it is open to doing business with Russia and the Emirates, it remains engaged with other Gulf states as well as European and American companies,” Gerstman noted. “The Libyan people did not overthrow Muammar Qaddafi only to become a beachhead for the Kremlin or the property of a new overlord who rules through blood and force.”
The conflict in Libya mirrors the ongoing war in Syria, which also involves Russia and Turkey.
“Those going from Syria from the Syrian National Army have a common goal. They are there within the framework of these common goals … Our brothers who are with us in Syria see being there with us as an honor,” Erdogan declared, reported The Jerusalem Post, referencing the Sunni force allied with Turkey in Syria fighting the Assad government for control.