Turkey’s Libya policy: militarization of regional policies and escalation dominance
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Turkey’s militarized involvement rendered it a critical actor for the diplomacy involving the Libyan crisis. The quick dividends from Ankara’s application of hard-power assets had a dramatic impact on the course of the conflict in 2020, which surprised many observers. Despite the resolute rhetoric about further military action, an emboldened Turkey has refrained from further escalation, and appears to have settled for a de facto ceasefire regime since August 2020. This paper seeks to analyze the drivers of Turkey’s initial involvement in Libya, in a way that departs from its traditional foreign policy, a key component of which was non-interference in regional disputes. Moreover, it analyzes the reasons behind Turkey’s de-escalation and declining military involvement in the Libya crisis. This paper makes two interrelated arguments: first, Turkey’s Libya policy showcases the recent coercive turn in its Middle East policy, which has been an outcome of overlapping developments at the leadership, domestic, and regional levels. Second, the key concept for understanding different phases of Turkey’s Libya policy is escalation dominance. Changing patterns of escalation dominance shape the boundaries of Turkey’s military involvement in militarized regional crises in general and the Libyan crisis in particular.