Haftar still posing threat to Libya: Turkish defense chief
General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) in eastern Libya, is still posing a threat to Libya’s unity and the ongoing peace process, Turkey’s top soldier has said, vowing Turkey’s continued support to the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and extended military presence in the country.
“There are still risks, threats and dangers against the current peace climate. There is no such thing as ‘accomplished.’ Everyone saw the last ceremony by the putschist Haftar group,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency on June 13.
Akar was part of a large Turkish delegation visiting Libya on June 12 upon the instruction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of the NATO Summit and Berlin II Conference. Along with Akar, the delegation led by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu included Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, the president’s chief foreign policy advisor İbrahim Kalın and Communication Director Fahrettin Altun.
Akar, who met Libyan Chief of General Staff Gen. Mohammad Ali Haddad and visited the Turkish military mission in Tripoli, said Haftar group continues to be armed from the ground and from the air despite the arms embargo, slamming the EU’s Irini operation for closing eyes to the shipments.
The world should not forget about the massacres committed by the Haftar group which has not hesitated to attack against the civilians, the top soldier said.
Turkey’s activities in Libya “are very clear in terms of international law, transparency and legitimacy,” Akar stated, adding “We don’t have anything hidden. Together with our Libyan brothers, we continued our activities here, and we continue to do so.”
In earlier remarks, Akar said the Turkey is not a “foreign power” in Libya, stressing “Turkey is exerting efforts to make Libya self-sufficient,” referring to the ongoing training of the Libyan security forces.
“We continue to provide training, assistance and consultancy support for Libyan troops to reach international standards. Our aim is the unity, integrity, peace and stability of Libya,” he added. Akar’s words are a response to the calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from the country.
Turkey reiterates support to Libya ahead of key summits
The Turkish delegation met President Halid al-Mashri of the High Council of State, President al-Manfi, members of the Presidential Council of Libya, Minister of State for Communications and Political Affairs Ammar Al-Lafi and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.
“Emphasized to President Halid al-Mashri of the High Council of State our commitment to the Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process,” he said. Turkey “will increase support to Libya in every field”, he said, informing the delegation “emphasized our support to national reconciliation efforts.”
In a separate tweet, he said, the Turkish delegation emphasized Turkey’s support to the GNU ahead of the Berlin II Conference in their meeting with Dbeibah. “Will continue to cooperate for secure, stable and prosperous Libya,” he said.
In Tripoli, Çavuşoğlu also met his Libyan counterpart, Najla Mangoush, and said they will meet again at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum later this month.
Menfi: Important to strengthen ties with Turkey
Mohamed al-Menfi, the head of Libya’s Presidential Council, emphasized early Sunday the importance of strengthening relations with Turkey. Al-Menfi also underscored the importance of improving relations and cooperation with Ankara in a meeting with a Turkish delegation, according to a statement by his office.
The Turkish visit to Libya comes days before the NATO Summit where the leaders will also discuss the recent situation in the North African country. In addition, Germany will host Berlin II Conference on June 23 to make sure the ongoing inter-Libyan peace process is not interrupted before the Dec. 24 general elections.