Turks living in Libya’s Tripoli say they feel better after truce
İlker Sezer – TRIPOLI
Some 300 Turks living in and around the Libyan capital have said that they feel better after a truce between the battling sides in the country.
Turkish citizens living under the siege by Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s military forces for nine months are mostly owners of restaurants, furniture shops and auto mechanic shops, according to the Turkish consulate in Tripoli.
“I haven’t gone through an extra-ordinary situation in the last nine years in Tripoli. I’ve never lost my hope for peace in Tripoli. I go back to Turkey to see my family every three or four months,” restaurant owner Ahmet Gülmüş told daily Hürriyet.
“They love Turks here. Those visiting our restaurant, especially the ones who have been to Turkey, try to speak in Turkish with us,” he added.
Ali Gassaloğlu, a waiter at Gülmüş’s restaurant, said that they were really scared before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire on Jan. 12.
Even though Haftar forces did not stop firing at the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) on the outskirts of the capital, daily life has returned to normal in the city center, according to Gassaloğlu.
“I saw the ouster of [Muammar] Gaddafi with my eyes. I was here back in 2011. However, the situation is riskier for us now, because Haftar deems Turks as enemies,” he said.
The truce has helped their business as well, said Hasan Aykaç, who is running a furniture decoration shop in Tripoli.
“Life has changed so much since Jan. 12. People weren’t going out,” he said.
“Everyone here supports the military agreement between Turkey and the [Libyan] government, but some people don’t want Turkish troops to be battling on the ground. Some feel like the Turkish troops will stay here permanently. The people who are more educated, open to the world and politically wise are very positive about Turkish soldiers coming here. Because they need it,” said Aykaç.
On Nov. 27, 2019, Erdoğan and GNA premier Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj signed two important memoranda of understandings, one on defense and security cooperation and the other on the delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction zones in the Mediterranean Sea.