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Libyan theater of military operations in the geopolitical projects of NATO and regional players in the Middle East
Material posted: Publication date: 17-08-2020
In 2011 Libya civil war broke out that eventually led to foreign military intervention (NATO) which was overthrown and killed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country since 1969.

The military intervention of the international coalition forces (block NATO) began after the civil war in Libya was authorized by a Resolution of the UN Security Council 1973, adopted 17 March 2011, which declared the protection of civilians as the goal of military intervention (Humanitarian intervention). 31 Oct 2011 the military operation of forces of the NATO in Libya was officially completed.

Currently in Libya there is a situation of dual power in the East in the city of Tobruk close to the Egyptian border sits in the Parliament, which supports the Libyan national army (LNA) under the command of Marshal Khalifa Haftorah, and in the West in Tripoli — the national consensus Government (NTC), headed by Faiz by Sarraj, which is officially recognized by the UN.

In the fighting, about half a million people were displaced inside the country, and 213 thousand civilians remain in the border areas. The world health organization (who) calls Libya one of the countries with the greatest risk of uncontrolled rapid spread of the coronavirus. The economic situation in the once prosperous considered in social terms, the North African country remains extremely difficult amid a global pandemic and historic lows in oil prices. Experts predict that the already fragile Libyan economy by the end of 2020 will be reduced by more than 12%, because the income from the sale of oil were being depleted and the world is entering a period of deep recession, which eventually will affect many countries.

Currently an active player in the Libyan theatre is Turkey, which pursues its own geopolitical and geo-economic interests in the country.

Geopolitical and geo-economic interests of Turkey are intertwined, so to ensure safety in the interests of the development of energy resources in Libya and increase its activity in Africa, Turkey needs to base in Libya. Libya for Turkey a sort of "gateway of Africa". They go for expansion of business and trade. For example, they had a contract for 19 billion dollars. with the late Gaddafi, on the development of infrastructure in Libya. Now F. Sarraj States that this contract is in force, moreover, invites and promises bole interesting contracts of Turkish businesses. He will be and other countries in North Africa, waiting for a strong hand of support from the Turks.

The onset of the LNA H. Haftarot on the Libyan capital – Tripoli (spring 2019) oil and gas in Libya.

Because France in particular abandonment and understands that the Turks are more active and former colonies over time can be really an ex-in the not too distant future.

Currently in Libya unfolded indirect military confrontation between Turkey, which supports the formation of the NTC (official Tripoli) and sent to the Libyan front for the thousands of Syrian fighters, as well as military equipment and shock system, and the other Gulf countries, among which stand out the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

UAE delivers the Libyan national army Marshal Khalifa the Haftarot, financial resources, military equipment and weapons. In addition to the UAE's opponents are Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France.

In defense of the Libyan capital Tripoli in the month of January 2020, when Russia and Turkey began military operations in support of the NTC, it sent about 100 officers and about 2000 Syrian mercenaries to strengthen the defense of the capital of Libya - Tripoli.

Increasing military aid, Turkey was transferred to Libya of militants from the "Division of al-Mutasim", "brigades of Sultan Murad", "Sukur al-Shamal" and other groups operating in North-West Syria.

Established in Idlib Syrian cease-fire (according to the agreements Russia and Turkey on March 5, 2020) Ankara used to airlift additional forces from Syria to Libya.

Transfer of fighters from Syria and Turkey to Libya (spring 2020)

In addition to mercenaries from among the "Syrian armed opposition" and large quantities of arms (infantry fighting vehicle ACV-15, 35-mm anti-aircraft Korkut, howitzers T-155 Firtina, etc.), reconnaissance and attack UAV Bayraktar TB2, Turkey has deployed to Tripoli and the required number of "military advisors", special forces and task force officers of the National intelligence organization (MIT) of Turkey.

Since the end of March, Turkey has increased its military involvement in support of the national consensus government (NTC) in Tripoli. Its air force and drones have carried out dozens of sorties against the supply lines of the LNA, which extend more than 1000 km from Eastern Libya to positions on the West of the country.

Thanks to the support of the NTC by Turkey troops H. Haftarot by mid-April, lost control of all major towns West of Tripoli. The next major goal for the NTC forces had become a major base of al-Vatiya approximately 140 km South-East of Tripoli, which the LDF captured in August 2014.

By mid-may, the LDF lost control of the airbase, "al-Vatiya", where a large Arsenal of weapons and military equipment, including supplied from UAE Russian anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes "Carapace-C1". At the airbase in early may were Emirati and French advisers, who were finally able to agree on its evacuation to Tunisia. The evacuation happened quickly, and the Emiratis in a hurry threw your zrpk "Carapace", which then as a trophy was driven around the streets of Tripoli.

The loss of this base for the Haftarot has meant a sharp weakening of its effective military presence in Western Libya, and this resulted in clear effects are already all over the Libyan front.

The onset of NTC forces in Turkish the support and expansion of the zone of control of the NTC in Libya.

In the month of June and the first half of July, Turkey continued to increase its military presence in Libya. Only in the last month and a half of Turkish military aircraft flew 27 flights in Libya. A Turkish military transport aircraft Airbus A400M transport ships were transferred to Libyan airfields and ports, weapons, equipment and mercenaries recruited in Syrian Idlib. Convoys of Turkish army was seen when driving towards the base of the al-Vatiya, which not long ago was recaptured in the Maya month by the troops of Faiz Saraga supporters of Khalifa the Haftarot. Apparently, at the airbase began to gain a foothold not only of the NTC forces, but the forces of the Turkish army, with a possibility of turning it into a base of the Turkish air force in Libya.The powerful offensive of the NTC forces with the military support of Turkey demonstrated that the LDF H. Haftarah and its sponsors in the face of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt sent a clear signal that the overthrow by the military of the NTC in Tripoli has not come out.

It is a place of a dislocation of the ideal for a military base of Turkey from a strategic point of view. According to some reports, at the airbase were deployed by the Turkish air defense missile system MIM-23 "Hawk", which on 5 July became the target of air strikes by aircraft belonging to the air force of the United Arab Emirates and possibly Egypt.

In early July, an agreement was signed on military cooperation between Turkey and Libya (NTC). NTC and Turkey signed a defense agreement, which gives the Turks a mandate for direct intervention, including for the protection of the official leadership of Libya. In Libya began to unfold, the official mission of the Turkish land forces, air defense, air force and command of the UAV. The agreement also provides for the establishment of a military base of Turkey on the territory of the former Libyan Jamahiriya and the representation of the Turkish staff diplomatic status. In addition, the Turkish councillors and officers have received full immunity from prosecution. Ankara has also gained the right to train and equip the police of the Libyan government. The agreement was signed during the visit of the Minister of defence of Hulusi Akar and chief of the General staff of the Armed forces (AF) of Turkey Yasar Guler in the Libyan capital.

If the NTC with the assistance of Turkish allies will be able to capture Sirte, the position of the LDF is very complicated. Sirte – a key city in Libya. Those who own it, they control two-thirds of the exports of Libyan oil. No oil is not enough money to wage war.

According to the views of the Egyptian military leadership of Turkey is aimed at control over all major military bases in Libya. Ankara already has taken under its actual control of the air base "Mitiga" and "al-Vatiya", as well as military targets in the port city of Misrata in North-West of the North African country, which has become the main transit point for the transfer of Turkey to the Libyan front, the Syrian rebels and attack systems. Turkey under the guise of promoting internationally recognized national consensus Government (NTC) of Libya, targeting the airbase "Dzhufra", located in the Central part of the Arab Republic.

The expansion of the zone of control of the territories of the NTC forces and the Turkish armed forces in Libya (June 2020)

In the month of July in these areas, there were major moving forces of the national consensus Government (NTC) Faiza Zarraga and Turkish forces. Currently, the Libyan national army (LNA) field Marshal Khalifa the Haftarot is in anticipation of the offensive forces of the NTC with the support of Turkey in the strategically important city of Sirte and the oil-rich district in the center of the country, the municipality of El Dzhufra.

The willingness to attack from the side of the NTC, with the support of Turkey is in context with all the precautionary steps by Egypt and the UAE under the direction of appropriate signals from Ankara that they are also willing to intervene in the conflict on the side of the LNA. These signals in General it began with the time of the attack UAE air force and the Egyptian air force base El Vatiya and destroy several defense systems of Turkey (SAM MIM-23 "Hawk") and electronic warfare systems. There is a theory that the bombing has killed and wounded among Turkish military personnel, however, at NTC this information deny.

However, this RAID showed that it was one of the most clear signals that Egypt agreed to take only under severe pressure from the UAE were very unhappy with "insufficient level of support for the LDF by Egypt," which led to the retreat of the LNA from Tripoli. It should be noted that the RAID was carried out not spontaneously, but with appropriate exploration and pre-suppression systems of Turkish EW.

The red line which is improper to move the forces of the NTC and Turkey in Libya. Otherwise Egypt will enter its troops to Libya

In mid-July, the Egyptian Parliament approved the direction of its military to perform tasks outside the country.

From Cairo have long claimed that the Egyptians have the full right to intervene in the situation in the neighboring country, as it affects the security and national interests of Egypt. The adoption of the decision by the Egyptian Parliament about using armed forces outside the country is already framed legally, since the House of representatives of Libya, the political wing of the H. Haftarot (the Parliament sitting in Tobruk) was officially invited by the Egyptian military to repel the aggression of Turkey.

The army's invasion of Egyptians in Libya is 2-3 while pre-mechanized and tank brigades or divisions of brigades who will support the helicopters and planes. This, according to Cairo should be enough to guarantee the new status quo in Libya and to stop the NTC and Turkey on the red line Sirte and al Dzhufra.

In mechanized divisions of Egypt, about 13 thousand soldiers and tanks 150-180. They consist of two mechanized brigade, one tank brigade (96 tanks), artillery brigade (36 guns), air defense regiment and tank regiment. In the tank divisions of about 12 thousand troops and 240 to 300 tanks. They consist of two armored brigades, one mechanized brigade and one tank battalion.

The tank brigades of the 3rd battalion (General 96-126 tanks), 1 mechbat (576 troops – 4 company), an artillery battalion (12 guns), three separate companies (air defense, reconnaissance and support) and 2 platoon (hazmat and medical). Mechanized brigade (3500-4130 troops) consist of 3 makhmatov, 1 tank battalion (31-41 tank), an artillery battalion (12 guns), 1 air defense battalion, 1 anti-tank battalions and 5 separate companies (intelligence, military police, chemical defense, medicine and engineering).

In addition, a possible conflict in Libya Egypt has significant advantages in the confrontation with Turkey.

Egypt and Turkey have roughly the same military might, but at the disposal of Egypt is 1115 kilometers of the border with Libya, which greatly facilitates the placement and support troops that will be included in Libya, if Turkey tries to seize the key city of Sirte and the oil regions Dzhufra al. Next to Libya is the largest middle East military base of the armed forces of Egypt, "Mohamed Naguib".

Turkey in this conflict is a very uncomfortable military-geographical position, as it may shift its forces to Libya only through the air communication ports in Tripoli and Misurata.

Direct military confrontation between the armed forces of Egypt may lead Turkey to lose, as the sun of Egypt is potentially capable of destroying small Turkish expeditionary force in Libya faster than the Turkey will have time to transfer troops to Libya. The Egyptian army has rich combat experience of the war against terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, where she lead a full-fledged fighting with the air force.

When meeting with Libyan tribal leaders, the Egyptian President promised to help in organizing and arming tribal militias. Erdogan has to make a difficult decision — to answer the call Cairo or to engage in uncomfortable and humiliating for him, the talks with the Arabs.

However, in the growing conflict on the side of Turkey began to include Algeria. Algeria has started deploying its armed forces and especially the PTRC "Iskander" in the background of the readiness of Egypt to invade Libya.

For the past nine months, the Algerian authorities began to pull to the borders of Libya unit of its National people's army. Now, in the state of readiness of the army of Egypt to invade Libya, the Algerian military began deploying existing PTRC "Iskander-e". In the country's defense Ministry said that if the Egyptians will go to the Libyan border, it will be regarded as an attack on Algeria.

An active supporter of H. Haftarot considered and France. In June it came to real fighting between NATO allies Ankara and Paris. So, on the night of June 18, Turkish transport ship off the coast of Libya refused to comply with orders the inspection of cargo from a French frigate taking part in NATO operations "Sea Guardian". Ignoring the demands and defending their military vehicle convoy, the Turkish military frigate locked on a French warship with radar systems, missile guidance, which in Paris is called "extremely hostile and aggressive" actions.

In this regard, experts suggest that the air RAID Emirates and Egypt have taken control of the Turkish forces of the Libyan air base at al-Vatiya was not carried out without direct support of Paris, or rather, the French system of satellite reconnaissance and electronic warfare systems for the Navy. In addition, the RAID was carried out by a wing of the air Egypt in-wing "Mirage 2000" with the Egyptian air bases, which means their fighting consistency with the French system of guidance. This consideration is confirmed in fact by the "anonymous" sources in the Armed forces of Egypt. According to military experts, was first collected data with intelligence on air defense systems protecting the base. After information was received about the deployment on the basis of the Turkish air defense systems, were used satellite images, which helped to identify defenses and their locations. Then was applied the aircraft electronic intelligence. After that, a plan of attack with the use of various types of munitions, including missiles to destroy radars, and electronic warfare. Military experts assume that in the attack were involved in reconnaissance planes involved in control of the situation and evaluation of the effectiveness of the attack, as well as a group cover.

In this regard, it is important to note that the Egyptian air force and the UAE did not have reconnaissance satellites, efficient aircraft AWACS and reconnaissance aircraft, but such means has the French. That's not counting reconnaissance aircraft private contractors, military intelligence of France who make reconnaissance flights over Tripoli and the Western coast of Libya since April of this year. The meaning of this operation consisted in two main points.

  1. Turkey was given to understand that her attempts to establish permanent military bases air and naval forces in Libya will be stopped by the sponsors of the Haftarot. And in a rather efficient manner and placed Turkey American air defense system "hawk" at the air base El Vatiya, in this case is not an obstacle for the forces of the LNA and its allies;
  2. France has made clear that it will support Egypt and the UAE to the fullest extent, in case further advancement of Pro-Turkish forces in the oil district of El Dzhufra and the strategically important city of Sirte. After that, in the Mediterranean sea was followed by the Franco-Turkish conflict over the attempted screening of the frigate Turkish Navy French seamen, Egyptian military exercises on the border with Libya, and, finally, the most recent statement of the house of representatives in Tobruk on the "right of the Egyptian army to make intervention in Libya". Thus, all the allies of the LDF with the application of diplomatic and military efforts of the parties today is to curb Turkey's attempts to enter the line El Dzhufra and the city of Sirte. But this is a General problem of Turkey today.

In this regard, the main for today the question remains: will the Turks El-Guru and the city of Sirte. It depends on two things: political and military security of such a step on the international stage. Turkish intervention in support of the Libyan national consensus government (NTC) began after the signing last year of the agreement on the demarcation of Maritime borders between the two countries.

Thus, Turkey wants to secure a major role in the planned exploration of natural resources in the Mediterranean sea and seeks to weaken the forces of the LDF that support Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, France and even Greece. As suggested by some Arab commentators, the US position on Libya is inconsistent and confusing due to the lack of strategic interests. In this regard, we note that this was just the first stage of the development of the conflict. Then Washington really pushed Libya into the background of its military and diplomatic efforts, but the increased involvement of Russia in the conflict has changed the position of the United States, making Washington more meaningful to help Turkey. But only in the framework of the containment of Russia, and only in terms of technical support.

Italy supports Turkey and PNS, while France and Egypt to support the forces of the Haftarot. The role of Greece in the support of Egypt and the opposition of Turkey is limited to the role of observer. Meanwhile, the UAE and Saudi Arabia support Egypt, but have different ideas about the prospects, which is why Saudi Arabia does not go beyond verbal support, while the UAE can't provide more financial support to the Haftarot in the context of the oil crisis and pandemics, and Egypt working at the limits of its combat potential.

In the Libyan crisis also involved and Qatar. Almost all the salaries of the Syrian and Yemeni mercenaries ensures that Qatar, not the Turkish side. They also buy weapons to the NTC. But Qatar financial resource in this case is also not unlimited. An indicator of this was the outflow of several thousands of Syrians from Libya.

The intervention of France today is an important limiting factor for the implementation of plans Turkish expansion in Libya.

For external allies of the LNA is France, Egypt and the UAE, now it is essential to fix the current situation on the fronts.

In this context, Egypt is now gone in the so-called "VA-Bank", and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in June, has threatened to intervene directly in Libya, if the international-recognized the NTC will take the oil-rich district Dzhufra and will be included in the city of Sirte, which is located more than 900 km from the Egyptian border. A. F. al-Sisi called al-Juru and the city of Sirte "red line", the crossing of which threatens Egypt's national security. To demonstrate its seriousness, Egypt conducted military maneuvers on the Egyptian side of the border. Codenamed "Decisive 2020" they included exercises aimed at "the elimination of mercenary elements from irregular armies." But these Egyptian threats and maneuvers will not change the new reality in Libya, and it is clear that the aspirations of Cairo's military intervention in Libya became more realistic.

In this military conflict, while Turkey has proved that she is more experienced and skilled in planning and conducting combat operations in Libya, but also in the ability to conduct high-tech war. Her drones are destroyed the air defense system the LDF and under its arms "Armour", which the UAE has deployed to Libya. With the military help of Turkey, the NTC managed to drop the power of the Haftarot of Tripoli for more than a hundred kilometers.

In addition count on some success in its upcoming offensive may be Ankara already complicated. Some military drones (UAV) and irregular forces transferred from Syria to inflict a complete defeat of the LDF Haftorah possible. But this is impossible if Egypt enters its troops in Libya and will support the Haftarot.

Such a scenario seems unlikely, as any Turkish intervention, if it happens, will be limited. But it is also true that the dream of the Haftarot and his supporters control over all of Libya is no longer feasible.

In military capabilities, the strength of the Turkish army is about the same as the Egyptian; both are F-16 fighter jets and hundreds of other combat aircraft. The Egyptian army — the ninth strongest in the world (on paper), with thousands of tanks. Turkey is in eleventh place, but it is likely that membership in NATO makes its power more effective than the Egyptian. That's the theory. Actually there is a big gap in ability and efficiency. The Egyptian army hasn't been tested in any external confrontation, and now, almost a century it struggles with a weak armed groups in the country. Clashes Egyptian troops with the forces of the "Islamic state" (IG banned in Russia) in the Sinai Peninsula over the past seven years, showed a certain efficiency, but the number of opposing Egyptian army forces of the IG was only limited to 1,000.

Turkey has relevant military experience in the fight against a superior irregular forces; its army for many years involved in the fighting in Syria for a long time (30 years) dealing with the Kurdish forces of the PKK on Iraqi territory. Only on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic over the past few years Turkey has held three major military operations: "Shield of the Euphrates", "the Olive branch" and "Spring awakening." In addition, troops entered the force of one mechanized infantry division backed up by special forces units in Iglinsky area of escalation in the North of Syria and indirectly joined in opposition with the Syrian army in Iraq carried out two military operations, but with limited applied force.

However, the Libyan theater of operations, unlike the Iraqi and Syrian distant a thousand miles. In Libya it is necessary to shift additional forces by air and sea, due to problems of logistics and limited resources of the Turkish armed forces to carry out this military operation. Aircraft of the Turkish air force is nowhere to be based in Libya, and to use them for this airfields in Europe, as a NATO ally Ankara, no one will. Besides, they will have to fight with ISIS or Kurdish forces and the regular army of Egypt, with the active military support of France and the UAE.

Insights from the situation

  1. Turkey has demonstrated that it is serious to support the NTC and is committed to its vital interests in the region. But she's got a problem with a distant theater of operations, logistics and potential for deployment to Libya is really serious military contingent.
  1. If the NTC with the assistance of Turkish allies would still be able to capture the city of Sirte, the position of the LDF is very complicated. Sirte – a key city in Libya. Those who own it, they control two-thirds of the exports of Libyan oil. Without oil there will not be enough financial resources from the LDF for the war. Currently it all depends on the decision that decides the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He decides to stay on this or try to take Sirte and to gain control over the oil Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya), but then wouldn't that also clash with Turkey sun of Egypt.
  1. In order to simplify logistics and ensure proper action in Libya, the Turkish command most likely preparing for the transfer of its air force at the airfield of al-Vatiya. Everything will be going on and to be carried out by analogy with the transfer of videoconferencing in Syria. Otherwise, logistics will be organized and expanded by sea and by air. Coastal Libyan waters will be patrolling the Turkish Navy. In the air will be on duty Turkish planes. In particular the development of HPE, they can support the Algerian air force. In this case, Egypt might be not under the power of helping the LDF back to approach the Libyan capital Tripoli and forced the Turks to evacuate. We had to do it before, last year, winter-spring, when the troops of the Haftarot stormed Tripoli. Now, the main battle even if they were, can be deployed only for the actual dividing line between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica on the line of the city of Sirte and al-Dzhufra.
  1. Egypt has troops in full combat readiness, demonstrating his determination to get involved in the Libyan conflict in case of further active actions of the troops of the NTC and Turkey crossing the red line. Despite the fact that the Egyptian army was inferior to the Turkish armed forces on the quality of weapons and training of personnel, in the war in the Libyan theater of the Egyptians will be a definite advantage in logistics: they do not, like the Turks, to send soldiers and equipment ships and military transport aircraft, and calm enough to cross the Egyptian-Libyan border columns.

However, in Egypt, to the beginning of the military conflict in Libya there are certain issues like the internal and external nature:

First, Egypt is still strong positions of the movement "Muslim brotherhood". The likelihood of activation across the country after war with Turkey in Libya is, and start open action against the political regime of Egypt after the efforts of Turkey in this direction is even higher.

Second, there are complex relations of Egypt with Sudan, and with Ethiopia in the relationship are on the brink of war over a dam on the Nile. This is amplified largely due to the Turkish factor in the region. Sudan, for example, actively established cooperation with Ankara. Turkey seeks to increase its influence in the region, including in the field of international trade routes passing through the Suez canal in the North and Persian Gulf in the East. Actively enters Turkey economically and in Ethiopia, establishing and increasing their cooperation with the leadership of this country. Given these factors go in this case Egypt (like Turkey has, simultaneously, three theater of operations: Iraq, Syria, and Libya) to have two or three trouble spots at once? How will Turkey to the Sudan and Ethiopia in the confrontation with Egypt if Cairo will bring his troops into Libya and begin to fight with Turkey?

Thirdly, in the growing military conflict on the side of the NTC can be switched on and Algeria. Algeria has already deployed its armed forces on the background of the readiness of Egypt to invade Libya and to hold power LNA H. Haftarot in the case of crossing the Egyptian border of Libya.

  1. Perhaps at the moment in the Libyan conflict temporarily stalemate. None of the warring parties has a significant advantage, allowing you to take control of the entire country. Therefore, the front line from the port of Sirte and to air force base El Dzhufra can be a line, which is divide Libya into two parts – Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (the historical names of regions).

Ganiev T. A.


The list of sources

  1. Artamonov A. the Libyan site. Assessment of the forces.
  2. Bystrov, A. A., Libya: the warring parties are preparing for the resumption of hostilities.
  3. Bystrov A. A. On increasing the participation of Turkey in military operations in Libya and strengthening its influence on the PNS.
  4. Bystrov, A. A. On the development of military-political situation in Libya, after several defeats the LDF. ttp://
  5. Military engineers and reconnaissance drones: the Turkish forces concentrated in the region of Sirte, the Libyan (Al-Arabiya, UAE).
  6. In Algeria called "red line" in the Libyan conflict.
  7. Ganiev T. A., S. M. Zadonsky Military power of the Turkish Republic. Volume 1-2. IBV. 2018
  8. The Libyan front: Haftar took al-Asaba is and goes to Gharyan.
  10. The NUMA were V. Syrian mercenaries are not going to senselessly risk their lives in Libya.
  11. Italy decided to join the Turkey in the Libyan war.
  12. Polonsky I. In Libya increases the risk of armed clashes between Turkey and Egypt.
  13. Turkish interest in the Libyan war: Ankara defends its $ 25 billion. _ medium =desktop
  14. Turkey is ready to cross into Libya a "red line".
  15. Turkey deepens in Libya.

Tags: assessment , Libya

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