Al Monitor website said Turkey is now reviving its approach in Libya by involving family members of former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and his supporters into its calculus, after having loosened its close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in a bid to normalize its relations with the major actors of the Arab world.
On September 5, the Libyan authorities released Saadi Gaddafi, one of Gadhafi’s sons, from jail, along with other prisoners including Ahmed Ramadan, who was known as the right-hand man of the late Libyan leader.
Al Monitor said Turkey seems to have played a role in his release, saying that following his release from a Tripoli prison, Gaddafi immediately traveled to Istanbul via private jet. A Libyan source familiar with the affair told Al-Monitor that Gaddafi then left Istanbul for Cairo. Why he didn’t directly fly to Cairo raised question marks.
According to the Libyan source speaking to AL Monitor, Turkish authorities considered a direct flight from Tripoli to Cairo “unsafe,” thus parties arranged for a connecting flight via Istanbul in coordination with the Turkish authorities.
Although what kind of security concerns would emerge from a direct private flight to Cairo from Tripoli remains unclear, Gaddafi’s departure for Istanbul has clearly emphasized the Turkish role in the process. This role will likely be noted as Turkey’s “good faith” in the Libyan political process.
Prior to 2011, Turkey had excellent relations with Libya. Amid talks of a possible international intervention to the popular uprisings in the country, the late Gaddafi was still sanguine about prospects for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support.
Yet, despite his previous oppositions to a NATO operation in Libya, Erdogan rapidly made a U-turn. He allowed the operation to be headquartered in Turkey’s Aegean province of Izmir and soon became a major actor in the Libyan proxy war.
Although the former Libyan leader’s fall was swift amid the 2011 NATO operation, the Gaddafi family will likely play a role in Libya’s future. Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, Saadi’s brother who was widely seen as a successor of his father, told The New York Times in July that he believed his movement could restore the country’s lost unity.
When the Biden administration opposed his return to politics saying that Seif Gaddafi was “a war criminal,” the Supreme Council of Libyan Tribes lamented the administration’s statement as “a rude interference into Libya’s sovereignty.”
Reviewing its options in Libya in a bid to secure its economic and political interests, Ankara cannot ignore this possibility. These interests include safeguarding the controversial military cooperation and maritime delimitation deals that Ankara signed with the Tripoli government.
Having realized that its allies based in Tripoli would not be able to secure Turkey’s interests alone and that the situation on the ground would be more volatile following the Dec. 24 presidential elections, Ankara is now seeking to diversify its allies.