Libya’s Sarraj visits Turkey after announcement of ceasefire
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the chair of the Presidential Council of Government of National Accord of Libya, Fayez Al Sarraj, on Sept. 6 after a recent ceasefire between the two rival sides of the north African country
The visit came following other senior Libyan officials who had meetings with Turkish authorities over a ceasefire jointly announced by the GNA in Tripoli and the House of Representatives in Tobruk with the condition of creating a demilitarized zone in Sirte and resumption of the oil production.
The Presidential Council of the GNA and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which supports warlord Khalifa Haftar, agreed to a ceasefire on Aug.21.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) dismissed the ceasefire as a marketing stunt, stating that rival forces were mobilizing around front lines in Sirte and Jufra, strategic areas for both sides.
Turkey would “love it” if a ceasefire declared in Libya last month is successful but there are many doubts after eastern-based forces under Khalifa Haftar dismissed the move, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sept.2.
“We see there are points by Serraj and Saleh that are good points, like lifting the (oil) embargo, but there are some issues with the statements as well,” Oktay told an online panel, referring to differing calls for demilitarized zones in Sirte and Jufra.
“Saleh has tried to somehow reach an agreement and Haftar has already rejected it. If it goes through, we would love it, but unfortunately, there are many doubts. Unfortunately, there are huge military accumulations by countries supporting Haftar,” he said.
The Libyan politicians paid subsequent visits to Turkey amid a power struggle in Tripoli. Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha was suspended by Sarraj during his recent visit to Turkey. The head of Libya’s High State Council, Khalid al-Mishri, also visited Istanbul on Aug. 27. The GNA also appointed a new defense minister and army chief.
Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank, Libyan Central Bank President Saddek Elkaber and Libya Investment Authority President Dr. Ali Mahmoud met in Istanbul on Sept.6. A cooperation protocol was signed between Turkey and Libya on the economy, technology, entrepreneurship issues that were signed during the visit.
Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country’s new government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
The U.N. recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as Tripoli battles Haftar’s militias. Turkey also supports the legitimate government in Tripoli.