A war of drones involving Turkey has escalated in Libya in recent weeks, as Khalifa Hifter’s Libyan National Army, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), continues to target Tripoli. While the appearance of Turkish drones in the war theater is an unequivocal sign of Ankara’s support for the Tripoli and Misrata forces, the drone tussle between Turkey and the UAE has an aspect less spoken about, namely a link to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family.
The Bayraktar TB2 drones that have shown up in Libyan skies are manufactured by the Baykar company, a family business of Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar, who is married to the younger of the president’s two daughters. Hifter’s forces have already shot down several Turkish-supplied drones, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord is said to have ordered more drones from Baykar.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are increasingly gaining prominence in the Libyan conflict as the air forces of the warring sides are limited to several dozen warplanes, which are old and lack adequate flight crews. The growing role of drones has led to a marked increase in mutual attacks on airports.
In the past several years, Hifter’s forces were already known to have used Chinese-made Wing Loong drones, supplied by the UAE. The drones, stationed at the al-Khadim base in eastern Libya, were employed in the Libyan National Army’s onslaught on Tripoli, which began in early April, but this time they have been confronted by the Bayraktars.
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