Everyone wants to get Sirte

On Saturday, June 20, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that Cairo is ready to assist the Libyan tribes in the fight against foreign interference by training and arming them. He also stated that any direct Egyptian intervention in Libya now has legitimacy under international law. According to him, the "red line" for the advancement of troops is the city of Sirte.

 Al-Sisi was displeased by Turkey's military assistance to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Sarraj in Tripoli. Thanks to this assistance, qualitative changes have occurred in the armed formations of the PNS, which have caused significant success. In recent weeks, they repelled the 14-month assault on Tripoli by the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of rebel general Khalif Haftar,  and also try to build on success by establishing control over the port city of Sirte, which is currently controlled by the rebels, and also over other territories east of the capital.

There is no doubt that the Government of Faez Sarraj could not have decided to take Sirte without looking back at Ankara. Obviously, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is behind this decision. Turkey has already announced the start of a new military operation.

Why is this so important?

Because Sirte and the nearby al-Jufra airbase are essentially the last two strongholds of Haftar, and if he loses them, his career will end there.

Capturing Sirte will provide   the GNA access to oil fields in the northeast of the country. At the same time, this will lead to the marginalization of the authorities in Tobruk - they will not represent anything else.

Therefore, Erdogan is now trying to mobilize all available forces to take Sirte and in the same way, consolidate its dominance in Libya. Then he will be able to dictate terms at the negotiating table, including with Russians, Americans, and French - with anyone. Therefore, for him, the stakes in Libya are very high.

Russia, which is among the states supporting Khalif Haftar, would also like to gain control of Sirte and the Al-Jufra airfield located near the city. According to reports, the Kremlin expects to establish a military base there.

Earlier, it became known that the visit of the heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu to Ankara, scheduled for June 14, was almost at the last moment postponed for an indefinite period. The reason for the disagreement was precisely the attempts of the GNA to regain Sirte.

Current situation in Libya

In Libya, the political, economic and military interests of several countries converge. These are Russia, France, Italy, KSA, UAE, etc. This is natural. In terms of oil reserves, Libya ranks first in Africa, in terms of gas reserves - fourth. The war is for access to the so-called "oil crescent." This is the territory in the northeast of Libya, where oil terminals and fields are located. The one who controls this crescent, in fact, controls the whole country. In addition, Libya has a favorable geostrategic location. Many countries are not averse to having several military bases there, especially Russia. Through Libya, it is possible to influence migration flows to Europe.

Now the front line between the armed forces of the GNA and the gangs of Haftar runs about 30 km from Sirte (the hometown of Muammar Gaddafi), which, incidentally, is the stronghold of the Salafis, which make up the backbone of the LNA. The GNA was already trying to take Sirte, but the Salafis defended the city, thus giving Haftar time to return to Sirte and take refuge in it and build a line of defense.

On the side of Tripoli stands the city of Misurata located near Sirte. The Misurat clans became the backbone of the Tripolitanian elites when the war broke out. They are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement (Ihvan al-Muslimin). The ruling “Justice and Development Party” (AKP) in Turkey and Qatar, which also supports the GNA, gravitate towards this movement.

At the same time, the religious doctrine of KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and many other Gulf countries supporting Khalifa Haftar is Salafism.

This suggests that the struggle in Libya between Tripoli and Tobruk (where the General National Congress (GNC) formally rules, and in fact the LNA Khalif Haftar), although it has an economic and political background, is also religious, ideological.

It is noteworthy that the fact that Khalif Haftar relies on Salafists who profess the unification of all spheres of society and the state under the laws of Sharia does not prevent him from accusing his opponents of Islamism.

Situation in Syria

According to available information, President Erdogan continues to transfer troops and equipment to the Syrian province of Idlib. He continues to clear out formations opposing Turkish-Russian ceasefire agreements since March 6. It seems that in the end, Ankara will transfer Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham (Tahrir al-Sham, HTS - the former Jebhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda branch)) to the Syrian National Army (SNA). He had already brought in 5,000 fighters of his pro-Turkish groups, forcing them to conclude an agreement with the local population that all administrative appointments in the province would be carried out together with Ankara. Ultimately, after the stripping is completed, they will agree with the Russians. This will be the demarcation of the terrorists (clause of the agreement, which they could not solve in any way). Most likely, through this, Ankara will unblock the Geneva peace talks on Syria (Geneva-3). Thus, if the main initiator of Geneva-3 in 2016 was KSA and Qatar, now Turkey will be.

By the way, economically, Turkey is already present in Idlib and other Syrian territories controlled by Turkey. On June 17, it became known about the introduction of a new package of sanctions on Syria, which further plunged the Syrian lira and, against the backdrop of this news, the Turks brought to Idlib and in the territory that they control their currency - the Turkish lira. Trade there is in Turkish lira. The Turks are building there temporary housing for refugees, social housing and other housing, rebuild the city. They have settled there humanitarianly and economically.

What is going on in Iraq

On June 16, Turkey launched the “Tiger Claw” military operation (Pence-kaplan) in the northern, mountainous areas of the Kurdish Regional Autonomy of Iraq (KRAI) against the bases located there against the terrorist organization of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Two days earlier, the Turkish military launched the “Eagle Claw” (Pence-kartal) air force operation there.

Baghdad reacted to the actions of Ankara. Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador to the country Fatih Yildiz to express concern over the actions of the Turkish side and to hand a letter of protest to the Turkish diplomat.

However, despite the protest, the official Baghdad’s reaction to Ankara’s actions was formal and rather mild. Most likely, before the military operation, Turkey gave the Iraqi authorities guarantees that the civilian population would not suffer. Most likely, this was agreed with Baghdad. In favor of this, the fact that literally a day before the operation, the head of Turkish intelligence Hakan Fidan came there.

It is worth noting that the Iraqi government has little control over the situation in the KRAI and is in confrontation with it. Therefore, Baghdad is even partially interested in Turkey conducting an operation in Kurdish autonomy.

The fact is that pressure from Turkey does not allow Erbil to go finally into "free swimming". Do not forget that it is in this region that rich oil fields are located. However, Baghdad, on its own, cannot keep autonomy under its control.

Eastern Mediterranean

Another process is underway in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey continues to drill gas off the coast of Cyprus, ignoring Greek protests. In addition, it blocked the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project for the construction of the East Mediterranean Gas Pipeline (EastMed). The project involved laying an underwater gas pipeline from Leviathan and other offshore fields through Cyprus and Greece to Italy and other South European countries.

It is clear that for a long time it is impossible to speak out against everyone. Then, it will be impossible to sell this gas in Europe. Therefore, most likely, the Turks will come to some kind of agreement with the Greeks or Israelis.


In recent years, we have been witnessing how Turkey is strengthening its regional influence, trying to place geopolitical flags and strengthen control over the periphery in order to become a full-fledged regional power.

The expansion of Turkey in the Levant, the Maghreb, and the Middle East is acquiring more and more systemic features. Turkish diplomatic and military forces are becoming more and more obvious. However, this is only the beginning of a difficult and complete vicissitudes of the path.

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