The Turkish Anadolu News Agency reports that the chairman of the Turkey-Libya Council of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) says that Turkish investors should harness Libya’s $120 billion investment volume, especially in the construction sector.
Murtaza Karanfil, the chairman, said “there is a call from Libya in this direction” noting lucrative reconstruction and trade opportunities would soon present themselves. “During the reconstruction process, houses, public buildings, and roads will be rebuilt”.
At present, $19 billion worth of Turkish contracts in Libya remain unfinished, according to Karanfil, and Turkish contractors lost $4 billion in receivables due to losses – including of machinery and equipment. However, Karanfil expects progress to be made soon in resuming ties and contracts. Prior to Ghaddafi’s overthrow, Turkish exports to Libya were set to exceed $2 billion. They reached $1.9 billion in 2019 with an increase of 29% from the previous year.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK based group, reports at least 117 Syrian mercenaries have been killed in Libya so far. The group estimates 4750 Syrian fighters in Libya, operating on behalf of the GNA (and Turkey), with another 1900 preparing to be deployed in Turkey. According to the group, 150 fighters escaped Libya for Europe. Turkey continues to recruit from the Afrin region of Syria.
The Egyptian navy has begun to train and build a naval commando force to serve under Haftar’s LNA forces. The commandos are intended to raid Turkish ships carrying arms for the rival GNA in Tripoli, according to both Egyptian and Libyan sources. The new force is trained by Egyptian naval officers, with ships being supplied by the UAE, two of the main backers of Haftar’s LNA.
50 fighters have been trained so far with 50 more receiving training in Egypt.
An in-depth investigation conducted by Public Eye and TRIAL International in Switzerland, Malta and Italy revealed that Kolmar Group AG, a Swiss fuel trading company, was involved in an illegal smuggling scheme concerning Libyan oil in 2014 and 2015. The investigation uncovered over 20 shipments of marine gas-oil during that time period involving “questionable individuals”, including Libyan drug traffickers and Maltese and Italian nationals. The individuals have been in trial in Sicily since 2018 with a verdict due later this year.
According to UN sanctions on Libya, it is illegal and can be considered a war crime, as a well as against Swiss law, if any company knowingly purchases or assists in exporting stolen commodities from a country at war. The report also criticises the banks involved for not conducting thorough due-diligence practices.
A delegation representing Haftar’s Tobruk-based government flew to Damascus last week, where they met with government officials and with Syrian president Assad. The delegates concluded the meeting by signing an MOU comprising agreements on 46 areas of cooperation and coordination, including the reopening of the Libyan embassy in Damascus. The sides also agreed to coordinate on common challenges like terrorism, maintaining their sovereignty and independence in the face of foreign interference, and especially the challenge posed by “Turkish aggression”.
The Tobruk delegation invited Damascus to open a consulate in Benghazi. The UN-recognised Tripoli government expressed its opposition to the illegal handover of the Damascus embassy to the eastern Tobruk government.
Syria joins much of the Arab world in recognising Haftar and the Tobruk government over the Tripoli-based GNA, who is aligned primarily with Turkey and Qatar. Turkey acting as a main backer for the Syrian opposition militias plays a key role in this development.