GNA-LNA: Libyan Civil War Update. The Government of National Accord (GNA) has captured al-Watiyah Air Base from the Libyan National Army (LNA) today. The GNA captured ammunition, armored vehicles, aircraft, and even a Pantsir S-1 (SA-22). Pictures released by the GNA are posted below. The LNA has formally denied any vehicles being captured despite photographic and video evidence to the contrary.
Turkey and The Government of National Accord signed a memorandum of understanding and defense pact in November with the Turkish parliament approving the agreement in January. Since Turkey intervened in January the GNA has been able to stop the LNA momentum around Tripoli, and around the country. The only gains by the LNA have been the capture of Sirte. The Government of National Accord launched a counter-offensive in the past month and they have been successful in driving back the LNA, capturing the coastal road from the LNA that runs from the Tunisia border to Tripoli. The GNA has been assisted with the help of Turkish drones, Turkish soldiers, and Syrian rebels. Turkey has recruited thousands of Syrian rebels in Turkish controlled areas of Syria (Raqqa, Aleppo, and Afrin). At least 250 Syrian rebels have been killed in Libya.
The next objective for The Government of National Accord will be the capture of Tarhunah city from the LNA. If the GNA can successfully capture the city, LNA supply lines to their forces in Tripoli will be cut. The GNA would also be able to encircle the LNA troops in Tripoli.
The LNA has outside support as well. Egypt, Russia, and the UAE all support the LNA with military support. Russia has even deployed the Wagner Group, which has close ties with President Putin and is estimated that the Wagner Group has about 1,000 fighters in Libya. There have also been reports that Russia is attempting to recruit reconciled rebels from southern Syria (that are now Pro-Assad) and send them to Libya to fight for the LNA. These efforts have not yet been successful, but Russia is not giving up. Very soon there could be Syrians fighting for both the GNA and LNA in Libya.
The memorandum of understanding signed by the GNA and Turkey is what is driving the Turkish intervention. If the GNA loses, the agreement is dead. This agreement expands the Turkish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the eastern edge of the EEZ claimed by Libya. Under the Turkish-GNA memorandum, the EEZ that Greece claims for Crete is eliminated, and the Cyprus EEZ is significantly reduced. Turkey signed the memorandum as a signal to Israel, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus who have established an Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, excluding Turkey. France, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, and the UAE condemned the memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the GNA stating that the maritime agreement “infringes upon the sovereign rights of third states, does not comply with the law of the sea and does not have legal enforceability”.
It is important to note that the GNA and LNA are both under a United Nations arms embargo, which has largely been ineffective.