Big setback for Qatar and Turkey over Libya and Sudan

Qatar called for an arms embargo of Haftar to be more strictly put in place, according to The Independent.

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Protesters in the streets of Sudan
Protesters in the streets of Sudan

Qatar and Turkey backed Sudan’s regime leader Omar al-Bashir for years, but now find themselves challenged after Bashir was pushed from power by popular protests and the military. According to Al-Arabiya, Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was snubbed on a visit to Sudan on Wednesday. Turkey is outraged, with its TRT calling the overthrow of Bashir, who is accused of genocide, a “counter-revolution.”

Qatar and Turkey are close regional allies and have supported the Sudanese regime and the West Libya government in Tripoli. In both cases the countries have sided with hard-line religious groups, including parties influenced by Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey had high hopes for its Sudan alliance, sending high-level military delegations there, leasing Suakin island and promising agricultural and other projects. It was part of Turkey’s desire to expand its influence in the Horn of Africa.

In Libya Turkey and Qatar’s support for the Tripoli government in the eastern part of the country grew out of the Arab spring and the civil conflict in Libya. Eventually that conflict pitted Khalifa Haftar, a general based in eastern Libya, against the western Libyan government. Haftar has backing from Egypt and the UAE, as well as Saudi Arabia.

A tank arrives at the Turkish military base in Doha, Qatar. (photo credit: QATAR NEWS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Russia has also met with Haftar. From the Egypt and UAE point of view, the western Libyan government is infiltrated by extremists and Haftar promises military rule and stability.  Haftar launched an offensive in early April to take Tripoli, potentially unifying Libya after eight years of war. Qatar called for an arms embargo of Haftar to be more strictly put in place, according to The Independent.

The fate of Libya and Sudan are, as of yet, undecided. Both Qatar and Turkey have major interests in both countries. Both are also US allies and will want to leverage support in Washington to influence the outcome in these north African states. The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have cemented their alliance in dealing with the Sudan and Libya crises. For Egypt this is of deep importance because these are neighbors. Now Cairo and Abu Dhabi could be on the verge of a historic role in both countries. 

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