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Libya: Not Exactly Neutral


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February 25, 2020:

The LNA (Libyan National Army) repeated its demand that the Turks leave the country. As long as the Turks are in Libya there can be no peace. The LNA also pointed out that the Turks are not the invincible imperial conquerors of old. The LNA claims to have killed at least 17 Turks and nearly a hundred of their Syrian Arab mercenaries. Several Turkish UAVs have been shot down and photographed. The Turks deny these claims but back in Turkey the government is doing its best to suppress news of Turkish military personnel who have died in Libya and buried back in Turkey without any admission of where they died and how.

Turkey claims to have killed at least a hundred LNA personnel so far. If the casualty reports are to be believed then the Turks are taking more of a beating than the LNA, which has always stressed keeping its casualties low. According to Turkish claims the LNA has lost less than one percent of its strength in the same period that the Turkish mercs lost over three percent and the smaller Turkish military contingent suffered about the same casualty rate. The Russian mercs have casualty rates similar to the Turks while the Russian and Gulf Arab military personnel providing logistical and tech support for the LNA have suffered very few casualties. Most Libyans oppose the Turks and welcome assistance from other Arab states as well as the Russians, who got on well with Libyans on a personnel level. Russian support for the Kaddafi dictatorship came from the Soviet Union, which itself disappeared in 1991. After that the Russians were no longer as eager to back Kaddafi who seemed to be following the same self-destructive trajectory as the Soviet Union. The GNA is being propped up by the Turks and still depends on independent minded Islamic militias as well as some militias that are basically criminal gangs with heavy weapons.

Turkey says it is in favor of a negotiated peace between the GNA and the HoR (House of Representatives) government in Tobruk. The HoR was the last elected government and helped organize the LNA. The UN created the GNA in 2016 and from the beginning this new organization proved unable to exercise control much beyond a few coastal cities. The GNA as it exists was created by making deals with the militias that dominate Tripoli and Misrata to the east. Many of those militias want, or will accept, a religious (Islamic) government for Libya. Currently most of these militias are out for themselves and are basically a network of independent warlords whose only common interest is preventing the LNA from establishing a national government. The LNA has been, since it was founded in 2014, against Islamic terrorists and radicals as well as independent militias.


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