Erdoğan’s neo-Ottomanism in effect with Turkey’s foreign occupation in Libya, says expert
(This story has been updated with the correct number of Syrian mercenaries in the fifth paragraph)
Turkey’s refusal to withdraw its foreign mercenaries from Libya illustrates a certain kind of imperialism prompted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s neo-Ottomanism, Libya expert Aya Burweila said.
Turkey continues to justify its military existence in Libya as legitimate and has rejected a military withdrawal from the country, which the people of Libya will not accept, Burweila told Nervana Mahmoud in a podcast on political developments in the oil rich North African country.
Earlier this month, Libya’s first female foreign minister Najla Mangoush asked Turkey to cooperate in ending the presence of foreign forces in the country, a move that has prompted criticism from certain Libyan political groups.
It was Islamists who attacked Mangoush for her remarks asking foreign mercenaries to withdraw from Libya, Burweila said, noting they had been active in the war-torn country as Turkey’s proxy forces for a decade.
Turkey deployed 15,000 Syrian mercenaries to Libya, according to Burweila, who noted the Islamist troops cannot survive without the help of the Syrian mercenaries.
Another country which is concerned with Turkish military presence in Libya is Egypt. Earlier in May, Turkey and Egypt announced that the two countries would hold normalisation talks to mend fractured relations, but the Libya issue stands as a hurdle between the countries.
According to the Libya expert, Turkey has made an unconstitutional agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), and it was soon after the agreement that the GNA realised that Turkish military intervention was not for the best.
“Some even claimed that Turks just destroyed the country. There is no way that the majority of the Libyan people will accept foreign occupation backed by Turkey,” Burweila said.