Turkey’s becoming party to internal conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa is now affecting its business connections, in addition to its political relations.
While Egypt was saying that it will stop Turkish roll on-roll off ("Ro-Ro") ferry trips, another serious blow came from Libya. The Tobruk-based government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni accused Turkey of arming Islamists and decided to expel Turkish companies from Libya.
Turkish companies in Libya are owed $4.5 billion and construction equipment worth $7 billion. During the civil war, $1.2 billion worth of machinery was looted from Turkish work sites. What will happen to the debt and the rest of the equipment is not yet clear.
Turkey is supporting the legitimacy of the National General Congress (NGC) controlled by Islamists and government of Omar al-Hasi against the Tobruk-based government that was appointed by the Representatives Assembly elected in June 2014, making Turkish entities unwanted in parts of Libya.
The Hasi government is working under the NGC, which was tasked with managing the constitutional process but has not transferred authority to the new parliament.
Turkey, citing the decision of the Libyan Constitutional Court that annulled the election, says the government in Tripoli still maintains its legitimacy. While the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt adopted pro-Tobruk positions, Turkey has hardened its pro-Tripoli stance.
Following the execution of 21 Egyptian Copts by the Islamic State (IS) and Egypt’s reprisals, the Tobruk front further toughened its anti-Turkey position and in an extraordinary Feb. 22 meeting in Bayda, decided to expel Turkish companies from Libya.