Libyan sources point to possible Qatari pressure on Turkey with the aim of rehabilitating the Muslim Brotherhood and bringing them to power in Libya, reports Al-Arab. The recent meeting in Ankara between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the chairman of Libya's Higher Council of State, Khalid Almishri, is part of this alleged Qatari pressure.
Almishri, who was linked to the Islamist organisation, also met with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Turkish diplomatic chief Mevlut Cavusoglu. The Ankara Foreign Minister assured that his country "continues to support Libya in overcoming the political crisis and achieving lasting stability".
Libya is going through a political crisis after years of wars and internal conflicts. The North African country currently has two Prime Ministers: Abdul Hamid Dbeibé in Tripoli and Fathi Bashagha, appointed by the House of Representatives in Tobruk, in the east of the country. Despite their political differences, both politicians have been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and maintain close ties with Turkey.
In recent years, Ankara has shown strong support for Dbeibé's Government of National Unity (GNU). However, recent reports indicate that Turkey may change its position after several meetings between members of the GNU and individuals close to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a key player in the Libyan conflict opposed to Turkish interests. These meetings were allegedly aimed at negotiating a new executive and undermining Bashagha.
Turkey does not look favourably on the rapprochement of its hitherto ally with its main rival in the country, which is why Ankara is changing its position in Libya. At this point it is also relevant to highlight Bashagha's recent visits to the Eurasian country with the aim of gaining stronger support and the Turkish government's alleged pressure on Dbeibé to relinquish power.
The rapprochement between Dbeibé and Haftar has gone beyond meetings, as the GNU has opted to appoint Farhat bin Qadara, who is close to the marshal, as head of the board of directors of the National Oil Corporation. According to Al-Arab, the UAE reportedly intervened and encouraged this contact between the two rival factions. However, as noted above, Ankara does not support this rapprochement, nor does Qatar.
As the Arabic daily explains, this situation has led Doha to return to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation that is experiencing its steepest decline since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi's regime. Libyan sources quoted by Al-Arab do not rule out that the Islamist group has recently received funding from Qatar, which has encouraged its members to take to the streets to demonstrate.
Brotherhood sympathisers were forced into exile or underground during the Gaddafi dictatorship, when the organisation's leaders were hunted down and executed. After the overthrow of the Libyan leader, the Muslim Brotherhood appeared on the political scene and one of its members, Islamist activist Mohamed Sowan, created the Justice and Development Party in 2012.
This formation, according to the Counter Extremism portal, sought to establish a Libyan Islamist caliphate modelled on the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the birthplace of the organisation, despite the fact that it is now considered terrorist by Cairo.
The Justice and Development Party enjoyed popular support in Libya - the party came second in the first post-Gaddafi elections - and significant foreign backing from Qatar and Turkey. This support has provoked tensions between Doha and its Gulf neighbours, as well as disagreements between Ankara and Cairo.