Intervention in Libya ‘unacceptable,’ Turkish government says
CAIRO / TUNIS
Emrullah İşler (2nd L) and Omar al-Hasi (R) meet in Tripoli. AA PhotoAny external military intervention in Libya would be unacceptable as it would also harm an ongoing dialogue process led by the United Nations, a senior Turkish government leader has said following a rare meeting with the country’s self-declared prime minister.
“Turkey is supporting the dialogue process launched by the U.N. We hope that differences of political and legal views can be eliminated through dialogue,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ankara deputy Emrullah İşler was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency late Oct. 21, upon his arrival in Ankara.
According to Anadolu Agency, İşler did not cite his meeting with Libya’s self-declared prime minister, who runs a rival government not recognized by the international community. Omar al-Hasi, an Islamist, who set up his own Cabinet in the capital and forced internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni to move to the east of the country, met İşler in Tripoli, on Oct. 21, al-Hasi’s government said on its website.
The meeting with İşler was al-Hasi’s first publicly known diplomatic meeting with a foreign representative. The website showed a picture of the meeting in the prime minister’s office, which had been previously used by Thinni.
Turkey is ready to make all kinds of contributions to resolve the crisis in Libya, İşler said.
“Military interventions into Libya from abroad are leading to huge damages. We find this unacceptable; these interventions are also damaging the dialogue process. We are supporting the Libyan people who carried out the Feb. 17 Revolution. Turkey will continue standing by the fraternal Libyan people,” İşler said, noting that Turkish Airlines will resume flights to Misrata on Oct. 26.
Turkish Airlines’ flights would be the first return of a major carrier since Tripoli’s main airport was badly damaged during fighting in summer.
Libya has had two governments and parliaments competing for legitimacy since an armed group seized Tripoli in August, and al-Hasi set up his own Cabinet in the capital.
Western powers and Libya’s neighbors worry the conflict will turn the North African country into a failed state or even spark civil war as former rebels who helped oust Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 now fight for control.
The U.N. and Western powers have tried to bring both sides to the negotiating table to end the country’s chaos but have avoided recognizing or dealing publicly with al-Hasi, who was elected by the rival assembly in Tripoli.
Several high-profile foreign officials, among them U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, visited Tripoli and Tobruk this month but none are publicly known to have met al-Hasi.
Western and Arab countries withdrew their diplomatic personnel when fighting between the Misrata-led forces and a rival group from Zintan escalated in summer.
İşler had previously visited Tobruk, a town in Libya’s far east where the elected Parliament allied to Thinni has moved.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment.
Turkey is one of Libya’s biggest business partners, with Turkish firms using much Misrata sea port, the country’s biggest.
Last month, the U.N. started a dialogue between the elected Parliament in Tobruk and lawmakers from Misrata who have boycotted the sessions.
The talks have not taken in armed factions from Misrata but diplomats hope that since Misrata members from the house are indirectly linked to the rival Parliament, the talks will start a broader political dialogue.
Libya’s weak central government and fledging national army have been no match for the well-armed factions, who both claim legitimacy for their role in the NATO-backed civil war that ended the late Gadhafi’s dictatorship.
The situation in Tripoli has been worsened by a separate battle in the main eastern city of Benghazi where pro-government forces are battling armed Islamist groups.