Recent developments in the Libyan conflict has drawn similarities to Syria’s current situation with the involvement of the same foreign players and a multitude of local militias controlling turfs, a regional analyst wrote for the BBC on Monday.
“Libya’s war has developed disturbing similarities with Syria’s. The arbiters of the fate and future of both are the same foreigners,” said BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.
Turkey and Russia support opposite sides the conflict between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), respectively. In Syria, Ankara backs rebel and Islamist groups in their fight for control against the Moscow-backed Syrian government.
“The proxy wars in Libya have become, in many ways, a continuation of the proxy wars in Syria,” the BBC said, “Both sides have flown in Syrian militias to apply the skills they have gained in almost a decade of war in their homeland.”
Turkey has reportedly flown in thousands of fighters from allied militias in Syria to bolster the GNA’s defence against an LNA offensive on the capital Tripoli. In December, reports showed Russia provided support to Haftar had by shipping mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group, a supposed private military company.
Turkey and Russia pushed for a resumption of peace talks in January, but the peace process broke down after the agreed-upon ceasefire was repeatedly violated and the GNA and LNA’s foreign backers continued sending arms to Libya.
“It is possible that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have applied in Libya a version of the deals they have made in Syria,” the BBC said.
Putin and Erdoğan could have agreed to end the LNA’s Tripoli offensive to split the spoils between them, it said, quoting German academic Wolfram Lacher as saying.
“We are talking about two foreign powers trying to carve up spheres of influence in Libya and their ambition may well be for this arrangement to be long term,” Lacher said.
The factions that fought against Muammar Gaddafi disbanded their united front after the Libyan dictator was overthrown in 2011.
The militias who opposed Gaddafi’s rule “had their own agendas and would not lay down their weapons”, the BBC said, adding that U.N.-sponsored peace efforts were unsuccessful.
“It did not take long for the remains of Libya to fall into even smaller pieces. The bigger towns became city-states,” it said.
“Now their biggest concern is that Russia’s President Putin might be establishing himself in Libya in the same way that he has dug into Syria.”