Dbeiba Remains in Power in Exchange for Turkish Influence (Control) in Libya

Habib Lassoued
Anyone who knows Abdul Hamid al-Dbeiba well knows that he did not come to power by accident. He had been preparing for it for years, and often told  his friends he was destined for the ruling platform and that nothing would prevent him from doing so. It would not be easy to abandon power after reaching it. Dbeiba is not a person from among the people, or a political official pushed by circumstance to the presidency, but is from the ifinancial, economic and social elite class, a representative of a group that knows what it wants and how to achieve its aspirations, especially in terms of control and influence.

Dbeiba is neither ready to give up power nor surrender to a peaceful transfer of power. Instead, he aspires to aggravate the crisis, pushing for further postponement of elections, to organize them according to his will and that of his administrative, financial, political and militia team, with the objective of winning by all available means, including  populist promises, playing on the emotions of ordinary oppressed people,  threatening war and division,  dancing on the ropes of internal, regional and international balances in a way that may seem chaotic to some, but in fact, expresses the utmost strategic political opportunism that will impact the entire country in the next stage.

Dbeiba ensured the failure of the presidential and parliamentary elections last December and overcame the obstacle of the end of his government’s legitimacy in June. He left  the government of Fathi Bashaga emanating from the House of Representatives in limbo, and  convinced Western capitals that Bashaga is close to the Russians and allied with Field Marshal Haftar.  Last May, in Tripoli,  Dbeiba waited for him with a blueprint for civil war, and in August Tripoli witnessed bloody confrontations between militias affiliated with the government of Dbeiba and those supporting  Bashaga. The  forces loyal to Bashaga were ultimately defeated in Tripoli by Turkish forces.

There are those who believe that Cairo and Paris served Turkey’s interests when they supported Bashaga. Dbeiba’s submission to the Turks seeks support in the Arab region, which has led to confusion and pushed the Tripoli authorities to challenge Egypt in an open and unprecedented way.

Ankara was not against Bashaga nor the House of Representatives, and Aguila Saleh was received by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior Turkish officials during his visit.  But Ankara inevitably aligns its  interests with those most trusted , who are willing to do their bidding, which in this case, is  Dbeiba, who has Turkish investments and extended family with close relations in  the Turkish government and its agencies. He frequently visits Ankara and Istanbul.

Those who invested in the government emanating from the House of Representatives lost the wager, and their loss was doubled, firstly, where Bashaga failed to impose his authority and reach the capital, and secondly, where Dbeiba handed over the leadership of the capital and the entire western region to Ankara.

Dbeiba knew how to play on the contradictions occurring in the regional context to take full advantage of them, especially in confronting Cairo, which he considered the weakest corner in the political equation in the region.

Dbeiba signed two security and economic agreements with the Turkish defense minister based on the December 2019 Agreement, which angered Egypt and European countries, an agreement that provides for raising the efficiency of military aviation capabilities in Libya with the help of Turkish expertise. The second agreement includes executive protocols for the security agreement signed with the government of National Accord 3 years ago.

Dbeiba is clearly pushing towards a decisive battle, which warlords, militia leaders and ideological militants from Islamists and February revolutionaries consider an irreversible option to lay hands on the entire country and all its capabilities and wealth, and he plans for Turkey’s aviation to play an important role in destroying the forces of the National Army led by Haftar, as its marches did in 2020.

Dbeiba views Turkey as the largest regional power that he can rely on in his struggle to survive and rule indefinitely.  He has strong alliances with the cultural, financial and political centers of Turkish influence in Libya, and has become one of the most prominent confidants of the hard-line political Islam trend led by Sadiq Ghariani, and adopts his positions, analyses and interpretations of events, especially when it comes to loyalty to the Turks and hostility to the axis of Arab moderation.

Turkey sees Dbeiba as the best executor of its policies and the realizer of its ambitions in Libya, and knows well his inclinations, and has no objection to helping him stay in power and to fortify his government in Tripoli, but is not ready to go to war with Haftar’s forces in the areas under his influence, nor harass Egypt by crossing the Red Line, which is still in force since it was set by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in June 2020.

Turkey understands that Dbeiba does not have sufficient legitimacy to sign important agreements, but  believes that these signatures can be a negotiable pressure card at any future stage to preserve its interests in Libya, and therefore knows how to exploit Dbeiba’s  love for power and his constant aspiration to remain at the forefront of the scene, and how to coerce him into serving the treacherous anti-Libyan political and ideological interests of  Qatar and Turkey.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

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