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Improved Turkish-Emirati relations help the situation in Libya

Turkish Ambassador Kenan Yilmaz's meeting with the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament in Tobruk and the reopening of the Emirati embassy in Tripoli seem to be opening a new phase in the North African country
PHOTO/ Oficina de Prensa Presidencial vía REUTERS

PHOTO/ Presidential Press Office via REUTERS  -   Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibé review a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey.

The recent rapprochement between Abu Dhabi and Ankara seems to have had a greater impact than expected. After nearly a decade of tensions and hostilities, the consensus reached between the two countries over the past few months has resulted in major Emirati investments in Turkey, a pact on currency exchange and nearly 10 agreements on financial, trade and energy issues. Moreover - as part of President Erdogan's strategy to normalise relations with its neighbours and prioritise national security - the Ottoman power has softened the tone of its discourse towards Riyadh, where it will travel in February, and has sought to boost its communication with Cairo.  

However, the consequences of this improvement in relations have also spilled over into the territories where the two countries used to exert their regional influence.  

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS  -   Fotografía de archivo, el príncipe heredero de Abu Dabi, el jeque Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (izquierda), estrecha la mano del primer ministro de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, antes de una reunión en Ankara el 28 de febrero de 2012
REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS - File photo, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) shakes hands with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan before a meeting in Ankara February 28, 2012.
Ankara and eastern Libya 

On the one hand, the visit of Kenan Yilmaz, Turkish ambassador to Libya, to the eastern city of Al-Qubba signalled a de-escalation in the tensions that, since 2013, had marked Ankara's relations with the east of the North African country. There, the Ottoman diplomat was received by Aguilah Saleh, Speaker of the Tobruk Parliament, with whom he had a "friendly and fruitful" conversation - as he told the Turkish news agency Anadolu.  

Yilmaz also said that the dialogue on relations with the eastern factions is showing a "positive development", underlining the statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said he "intends to visit the eastern region".  In the diplomat's words, Turkey intends to deal "with all Libyan people equally and is interested in developing relations with all parties"

aguilah saleh
REUTERS/COSTAS BALTAS - Speaker of Libya's Tobruk-based parliament, Aguilah Saleh

International experts have argued that Yilmaz's visit to eastern Libya and his meeting with Aguilah Saleh signal a change in Turkey's stance on the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, and its power in eastern Libya. Should the rapprochement continue along this path, this could be the beginning of a new phase in which the Ottoman authorities and the Tobruk House of Representatives consolidate bridges of communication between them.  

Abu Dhabi and Tripoli 

The reopening of the UAE embassy in Tripoli, meanwhile, has allowed the two sides to put their diplomatic relations back on track. Earlier this week, Abdul Hamid Dbeibé, acting prime minister of the Government of National Unity (GNA), met with the new Emirati ambassador to Libya, Mohammed Ali Al-Shamsi, after he handed over his credentials to the head of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Younis Al-Mafi.  

Among other issues, Dbeibé and Al-Shamsi discussed the possibility of allowing Libyan citizens to apply for a visa to the UAE via the internet.  

libia-emiratos
PHOTO/WAM - Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibé and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Alliances in Libya   

The Emirati embassy in Tripoli has remained closed since Islamist militia hostilities towards the Emirati presence forced its closure in 2014. This resentment was already evident in 2013, when the building came under missile attack, but intensified following the rejection of the election results by Islamist political movements in Libya's 2014 parliamentary elections.  

Since then, Islamist groups, some warlords and warlords, and a number of isolationist-leaning politicians have been backed by Qatar and Turkey. This alliance, which is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, has been behind various campaigns against Abu Dhabi. Especially after the Emirati government supported the LNA's Operation Flood of Dignity against the Islamists in 2014. Thus, in opposition to the Western coalition, the UAE positioned itself in an alliance in support of the LNA, alongside Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

Now, as reported by Al-Arab News, the moves made by the countries of both factions could be decisive in changing the behaviour of the two sides on Libyan territory. This was the case, for example, between the Speaker of Parliament, Aguilah Saleh, and Khalid Ammar Almishri, the president of the UN-designed body, the Higher Council of State. The two met in the Moroccan capital of Rabat and discussed the prospects for cooperation and the search for a solution to the failure of the elections scheduled for 24 December.