Libya, Turkey, Qatar agree to boost Libyan army
Libya has agreed with Turkey and Qatar to sign a three-way agreement for rendering military cooperation to the Libyan army, a senior Libyan official has announced following a quick visit by the Turkish and Qatari top soldiers to Tripoli.
The announcement came from Libya’s Deputy Defense Minister Salah Al-Namroush on Aug. 17 in a statement following tripartite talks with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah in Tripoli.
According to the media office of the government-led Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation, Turkey and Qatar will establish facilities in Libya for military training and consultancy. Libyan Defense Ministry undersecretary Salah Al-Namroush also added that as part of the deal, Turkey and Qatar will send consultants and military personnel to Libya.
The Turkish and Qatari ministers stressed that they support the political solution and the legitimate government, he added.
Turkey and Qatar are backing the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against the Libyan National Army (LNA), under the command of General Khalifa Haftar and backed by Russia’s Wagner Group, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France.
A defense cooperation deal signed between Ankara and Tripoli, in late 2019, protected Tripoli against Haftar’s offensive.
“We are here upon the invitation of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord. We are in their support,” Akar said, adding, “We will continue to exert all the efforts for the integrity, unity and prosperity of the Libyan people.”
Describing talks in Libya as very fruitful, Akar said the Turkish army is continuing its assistance to the Libyan security elements in clearing the mines and eliminating the improvised explosive devices (IED) settled by the Haftar forces in every part of the country.
“We are doing everything to protect the civilians,” he stated.
Akar stressed that Turkey is on the right side of the Libyan conflict by supporting the Tripoli government, saying, “We are making efforts for a permanent truce and everybody knows well what the other side is busy with. Everybody must understand what happened in Tarhuna, what the mass graves mean there and who supports whom in Libya.”
Akar, accompanied by Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, visited Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as well. He also visited the Defense Security Cooperation and Training Assistance Advisory Command that was established as part of a memorandum of an understanding between Turkey and Libya.
'Turkey will always stand with Libyan people'
Turkey will always help Libya maintain its integrity, security, and ensure the prosperity of its people, Akar also said while speaking to reporters on Aug. 18 about the specifics of his visit.
“We are here upon the invitation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) that was recognized by the United Nations (UN). We will continue standing with our Libyan brothers and sisters in the future, with whom we share a common history and culture of 500 years,” he said.
“We will do everything that is needed in order for Libya to maintain its integrity, security and the prosperity of its people.”
“We also conduct humanitarian aid work here and provide every kind of support for hospitals. Our bomb squads are working against those who have planted explosives everywhere. We are doing everything we can to protect civilians from harm,” he said.
‘Everyone should know about Tarhuna mass graves’
Warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces in eastern Libya are committing serious rights violations, said the Turkish defense minister.
“We are on the right side. We support the U.N.-recognized government and Libya’s territorial and political integrity. We care about the welfare of its people. We do everything in our power to maintain the cease-fire,” said Akar.
“Everyone should see the mass graves in Tarhuna and know what really happened there. We now know who supported [Haftar’s] illegal forces against the GNA. We hope that peace will prevail here soon and our brothers and sisters in Libya will live in security.”
Greece, Egypt deal 'null and void'
Commenting on the Eastern Mediterranean situation, Akar said Turkey is working completely in line with international law in order to protect its own rights and interests, and those of its brothers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
"What we do in the Eastern Mediterranean is completely transparent. We respect our neighbors’ rights and interests; we always say that we are on the side of being good neighbors. We will continue doing everything we can to secure
the result of our work in the near future,” the minister said.
He reiterated that the exclusive economic zone agreement between Greece and Egypt was completely “null and void.”
“This agreement is not just void, it also puts the Egyptian and Greek people at a disadvantage. We invite everyone to be reasonable about this; everyone has to see that a fait accompli will not be of any benefit to anyone,” said the minister.
Akar also reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to “decidedly” continue its operations in the region.