The Turkish Intervention in Libya


  • Aron Lund

Publish date: 2022-04-08

Report number: FOI-R--5207--SE

Pages: 79

Written in: English

Research areas:

  • Säkerhetspolitik


  • Civil War
  • Conflict
  • Egypt
  • Intervention
  • Law of the Sea
  • Libya
  • Libyan Civil War
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Mercenaries
  • Militias
  • Military Intervention
  • North Africa
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates


This FOI report is a case study of Turkey's intervention in Libya, launched in late 2019 and early 2020. In addition to offering a general background on the Libyan conflict and Turkish policy, it describes and analyses Ankara's involvement in the war since 2011. The core of the analysis is an investigation of Turkey's aims and interests as well as the means and actions it has deployed. The report also suggests certain conclusions about the effects on Libya and on Turkish foreign policy. The report finds that Turkey's intervention is likely to have been motivated by factors that were primarily geopolitical/ideological and secondarily economic in nature, and that it utilised an innovative combination of conventional and unconventional means, including the deployment of Syrian mercenaries backed by Turkish drones. By and large, the intervention has been a success for Turkey, allowing it to cement its influence as a primary external actor in Libya, deal a blow to foreign competitors, secure a favourable maritime agreement with Tripoli, and set the scene for a potential future economic payoff. The situation in Libya remains risky and unstable, however, and the costs to Turkey may grow over time.