Yesterday, the Egyptian parliament, meeting in secret session, approved the deployment of troops to Libya. As we have been warning with increasing urgency in the last month, the invasion of Libya by Egypt marks a point of no return in the spread of the war in the Mediterranean.
Last Thursday, after having received the request for intervention from the parliament of Cyrenaica, Sisi met with representatives of the tribes of South Libya and assured that the red line of Egypt was Sirte, the heart of the oil infrastructure of the country, under intense siege of the army troops of Tripoli. Then came phone consultations with the USA and the urgent session of the Egyptian parliament.
Meanwhile, the defense ministers of Turkey and Qatar were meeting with the interior minister of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Tripoli, awaiting developments and preparing a response. In the US and European ministries of foreign affairs, the dominant theory is that the Egyptian army does not have the capacity to go much further than a symbolic deployment in the east of the country in the hope of forcing negotiations. If that is the goal, it certainly does not seem to stir up an Erdogan who claimed last week that Turkey is on the way to becoming an uncontrollable regional power. A statement that inevitably fed back speculation about the acceleration of Turkey’s nuclear programme.
The Turkey-Egypt confrontation
After being on the verge of collapse, caught between the economic crisis and the stagnation of its imperialist strategy, the Erdoganist regime has known how to take advantage of the opportunity that the pandemic has provided to reset its position in Syria with Russia and Iran, initiate a military campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan and above all, turn the Libyan war upside down. The Egyptian invasion finds him forcing Greece’s hand under the threat of war in order to take over the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean and pushing for a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia to warn the US of the dangers that a forceful response would bring.
Turkey has obviously not become involved in the Libyan war to the extent that it is now because of mere ideological solidarity between Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood controlling the Tripoli government. His aim is to consolidate the only government that recognizes its territorial aspirations in the Mediterranean and establish permanent bases for its navy and air force that will territorially secure the borders of what Erdogan pompously calls a Blue Turkey.
For Egypt, which has just ratified its unity of interests with Greece, Cyprus and Israel with the approval of the construction of a joint gas pipeline, time was running out. If the government of Tripoli retakes Sirte and thus takes over the de facto monopoly of Libyan oil exports, ensuring militarily at the same time the extraction in the waters of the continental shelf of Crete and giving a final step to a tendering process into which the Russian and Azeri oil companies would enter, the energy and geostrategic map of the entire Mediterranean would be flipped over like a sock.
Europe and Turkey
For the EU, the situation is critical as well. France abandoned the EU-led NATO mission to enforce the arms embargo, following a serious incident between one of its ships and the Turkish navy. Macron, who is campaigning to stop the Muslim Brotherhood on French ground, has entered into a war of words against Erdogan which was intended to push forward a new wave of sanctions, to an unprecedented level, at the summit that ended early this morning.
Stalled in the debate on funds, the European Council has postponed the bulk of the issue until September. And the Greek government fears that…
…Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raises the stakes before then with an intervention in the Eastern Mediterranean in an attempt to avoid an agreement on the delimitation of an exclusive economic zone between Greece and Egypt
A horizon of terror
For the time being, Egypt’s movement does not seem to be able to stop the general Turkish offensive but, on the contrary, it will accelerate it, so the Egyptian army will be forced to directly confront the troops of the Tripoli government and its Turkish patrons. We are already in a phase in which mercenaries and irregular forces sponsored by powers are being replaced by national conscripted armies. What’s more, from pickup warfare in semi-desert areas we have moved to air warfare and now to naval warfare in front densely populated areas in the heart of the maritime trade routes linking Europe, Asia and Africa.
In other words, war is spreading, directly involving the working class of a major industrial country like Egypt, threatening to stop Mediterranean merchant trade and hindering gas supplies to Europe. We are at a critical time for workers throughout the region, with the threat of mass slaughter looming ever closer and all the incentives for a seemingly endless escalation. The media’s silence will be followed by a search for culprits and complex arguments about who is defending and who is attacking. We don’t care. In this one as in all wars of our time, there is only one victim, the workers of all sides; and only one aggressor: all the states that participate in the war directly or indirectly. War during imperialism has no other solution than the descent into barbarism or the development of the workers’ struggle. And that is what the situation calls us to today, if possible, more urgently than yesterday.