The Middle East Conflict You Haven’t Heard About by Nicholas Saidel – Wall Street Journal
Iran isn’t the only flashpoint in the Middle East. Less noticed are tensions between Egypt and Turkey over the fate of Libya, where a messy civil war has been raging since 2014. This antagonism could further destabilize the Middle East, which could set off another refugee crisis in Europe. The fight may also disrupt maritime commerce in the Mediterranean and lead to a resurgence of ISIS in Libya.
Two events set off the quarrel. One was Turkey’s decision last month to deploy troops to Libya in support of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his internationally recognized Government of National Accord, known as the GNA. Then there’s Turkey’s maritime accord with the GNA in November. Egypt has substantial energy interests in the eastern Mediterranean, and the agreement sets out exclusive economic zones for Turkey and Libya that would hamstring further exploration by Egypt in a region rich in natural gas.
There is no shortage of foreign involvement in Libya’s civil war. Egypt—like Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—backs Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army under his command. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has provided logistical support to Mr. Haftar as he fights militias loyal to the GNA. There are reports of more direct support from Egypt, including weapons shipments. Turkey, along with Qatar, backs the GNA, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood—an archenemy of Egypt’s secular, military government…