With the escalating tensions between Iran and the United States after the assassination of General Suleimani, and all the implications this has on the already crumbling economic situations in Lebanon, adding to that Carlos Ghosn’s undeclared arrival to Lebanon, it is understandable that the news in Libya went unnoticed in Lebanon. However, these events may have a considerable impact on the already strained international relations, which could easily reach Lebanon.
Let’s begin by laying providing some key information because as far as the Lebanese public is concerned, the war in Libya ended with the ousting of Muamar Al Gaddafi back in 2011. In reality, these events are what got to be known as the First Libyan Civil War. The turmoil following the first was led to the creation of the two main actors we see today: the Government of National Unity (GNA) and Khalifa Haftar.
The GNA is an interim government that was formed in December 2015 under the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement, a United Nations-led Initiative. The turmoil started after the GNA failed to assert its dominance the first year, mainly due to its weak military (the Libyan Army) and inner Libyan division, leading the Libyan House of Representatives to vote against the GNA in summer 2016 (despite previously supporting it), becoming its rival for governing the Country. The House of Representatives is situated to the East in Tobruk, its assault is headed by field marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
The Second Libyan Civil War escalated recently when the GNA requested Turkish military support after signing a security and maritime agreement with Turkey, essentially giving Turkey free access to newly discovered underwater gas fields, angering Mediterranean countries, most notably Greece and Cyprus who share the border and were intending to exploits these fields, a dangerous move considering the historical conflict between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus.
The agreement becomes even more problematic when we consider that the GNA is supported by the United Nations, France, England, and the United States (although some contradict this claim), while the Tobruk government is backed by Egypt, the UAE, and Russia. The latter provides military, health and monetary support to the LNA, even supposedly sending mercenaries. Other than the obvious conflict between the United States and Russia, this sets a dangerous scene for a potential conflict between Turkey and Russia as well. One should not forget that Turkey is a NATO member and had downed a Russia military jet not long ago, the two countries only seem to get along when President Trump agitates both of them, however that is another issue. For the time being we should remember to keep an eye to the West as it presents the grounds for a potential conflict that could be as complicated as the one on the East.