Middle East expert Ethan Chorin warns that the international community may be condemning Libya into solidifying the split between east and west, LNA and GNA. Chorin blames the international actors pushing for various power-sharing agreements based on their own interests, whether halting the flow of migrants or stopping ISIS, and not necessarily finding what is best for Libyans.
Chorin explains the Berlin conference failed because the two sides to the conflict are irreconcilable, the product of faulty handling of post Gaddafi Libya that left the country vulnerable. As the US and Europe then failed to finish what they started, Turkey and Qatar rushed in to “engineer an Islamist counter-revolution”, backing the GNA.
Chorin suggests that in order to bring stability to Libya, the European powers must finish what they started: disarm Tripoli’s militias. Haftar, he says, defeated ISIS and Al-Qaeda and proceeded to consolidate power over the east and south of the country. However, the continued failure of the Europeans and Americans to play a constructive role left room for Moscow and Ankara to sweep in, and push their own interests, which include undermining the West.
As the region’s leaders are distracted by Turkey’s moves in the Mediterranean, it continues to send “planeloads” of Syrian militia fighters, many of whom are Islamists, as well as sophisticated arms to counter the LNA’s advantages.
Chorin predicts that what could result is a permanent division of Libya into Turkish-controlled West and a Russian-influenced East, something each country can live with. Both regions have energy reserves, Russia could establish a military base on the southern reaches of Europe, and both would see their regional influence rise, with Turkey solidifying its role as the patron of Islamist regimes. Meanwhile, Russia sells advanced arms to NATO Turkey, and Turkey helps Russia bypass the Ukraine and pump its gas into Europe, all in efforts to undercut the EU, NATO and the US’ influence. As this happens, Tripoli will be controlled by Islamists and Haftar will move closer to Russia and Egypt, becoming another regional strongman. In all of this, Russia and Turkey will be able to influence and pressure Europe as they see fit, through controlling the flow of migrants and terrorists into the continent.