Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that the conflict in Libya could risk sliding into chaos and become the next Syria, which is why Turkey was becoming more involved. “If today Libya becomes like Syria, then the turn will come for the other countries in the region… we need to do whatever is needed to prevent Libya from being divided and slide into chaos and this is what we are doing.” He added this is “the legitimate government there that we deal with”. Cavusoglu met with opposition leaders from rival political parties in order to get their support for the upcoming motion to be introduced this week to send troops to Libya.
One politician, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who heads the main party in opposition, spoke to journalists over the weekend, indicating his party would not support the movement of Turkish troops to Libya, noting his country should be helping the sides reach peace and not risk clashes with the LNA, Egypt or Russia.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned, at an end of year press conference, that Russia and Turkey, and not Europe, were setting the agenda in the ongoing Libyan conflict, and that they were pursing a military and not political solution. Conte called on all foreign actors to unite, and not allow those distant from Libya to strengthen their positions and set the agenda.
"We must be united, we cannot allow actors even much more distant from Libya, to position themselves, settle their role in the Libyan scenario and claim the primacy for any solutions," he said. "Solutions which, moreover, are only military."
The top UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, condemned the recent airstrikes that killed a number of civilians and wounded many more over the weekend and before.
According to Salame, “indiscriminate attacks against civilians not only constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law but also further escalate the conflict and incite future acts of revenge, which threaten the social unity in Libya… (and are) utterly unacceptable”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would send troops to Libya, after the Tripoli-based GNA officially requested Turkey's military backing. In a speech delivered today, Erdogan said he will present a bill in this regard to the parliament on January 7, noting he is accepting the Libyan invitation.
The European Union Foreign Policy body urges all sides in the Libyan conflict to “cease all military action and resume political dialogue”. That is, since “there is no military solution to the crisis” and the “only way to settle it must be a political one… (on the) basis of (UN) proposals”.
The Chairman of the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies, and former ambassador to the UAE, Dr. Aref al Nayed, said he had met recently with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, in Moscow, to discuss recent developments. The two discussed the recent GNA agreements with Turkey, which Nayed described as “null and void”, as well ways to unite efforts to thwart Turkish military intervention in Libya. Nayed noted the agreements “pose an imminent threat to Libya’s sovereignty, territorial integrity…and stressed the importance of taking urgent action through the League of Arab States, African Union, European Union and Security Council.”
Nayed met recently with Greek Foreign Ministry officials as well, in the days following the announcement of the Turkish- GNA agreements.
Amidst rising tensions between Turkey and Libya’s eastern-based government, LNA naval forces captured and then released a cargo vessel with Turkish crew members over the weekend. The ship was flying a Grenadian flag, and was not found to be carrying arms. LNA ships intercepted the vessel as it sailed from Malta to Egypt, crossing through Libyan waters without prior permission, according to an LNA spokesman. It was released soon after.
The UK-based Guardian newspaper reported on a new wave of Sudanese fighters “flocking” to Libya to fight in its ongoing conflict, “raising fears of prolonged war”. Recent months saw the arrival of hundreds of new recruits joining Haftar’s LNA forces. LNA commanders estimate at least 3000 Sudanese mercenaries are now fighting throughout Libya. A recent UN report on foreign intervention in Libya pointed to the involvement of Sudanese and other foreign fighters, warning it could lead to further instability. We have reported before on this development here on Libya News Live.
Sudanese mercenary commanders in Libya say many of the new recruits are those who fought against the now deposed ruler of Sudan Omar al-Bashir, who stepped down after months of popular protests and when the military withdrew their support for him. They hope to return to Sudan to fight the current transitional government, and are in Libya in order to get the resources, including arms and other supplies, to be able to return to do so. Many of the fighters are in Libya in order to earn money, and are also involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling efforts to further increase their earnings. These new fighters are in addition to the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group formerly know as the Janjaweed, who are already in Libya fighting on behalf of Haftar’s LNA since the summer.
greek parliament recognises tobruk house of reps, greek fm in benghazi, haftar to travel to athens, cyprus talks to jordan, turkish fm justifies turkey's claims and more updates
The Greek parliament stated that it is recognising Libya's Tobruk based House of Representatives as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people and state, according to analyst Mohamed Eljarh. This development comes after a series of high-level meetings between Greek and Libyan officials since Turkey announced its agreements with the Tripoli government. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias reportedly travelled to Benghazi on Sunday to meet with LNA head Khalifa Haftar, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry. This meeting follows up on a previous visit by Libya’s eastern House of Representatives head Aguilah Saleh to Athens, to discuss the GNA’s provocative agreement with Turkey.
Greece and the eastern Libyan government maintain these agreements are illegitimate and contrary to international law. Greece further stressed the need to reach a political solution in line with the UN-led efforts ahead of the scheduled January “Berlin Conference”. Dendias also met with his Egyptian and Cypriot counters.
LNA head Khalifa Haftar is set to visit Athens in the coming days, according to the LNA’s official twitter account.
Dendias was quoted as saying, “The condemnation of the Turkish actions is unanimous by all our allies and partners and this is our most powerful diplomatic weapon.”
Related to this, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, in an interview with Greek media, said his country was ready to discuss the matter with Greece and any of the Mediterranean countries at any time. He explained Turkey’s claims, which all other regional members reject. Recall that the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete are situated in the waters which Turkey claims is in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ):
In response to claims the agreements with Libya are illegitimate since Libya’s House of Representatives, which backs the LNA, did not ratify the agreements, the Turkish diplomat said this is no different than deals reached between the EU and Italy with the GNA.
The two foreign ministers have, since, spoken on the phone, ahead of a planned visit by Dendias to Istanbul (to visit Turkey’s Christian community), but details of the conversation were not publicised.
LNA sources are claiming that Turkish troops are fighting within the GNA ranks. The sources claim that they saw Turkish snipers and commandos fighting in Tripoli - “We saw Turkish soldiers fighting on the ground in the direction of Khallet al-Furjan in Tripoli among the GNA armed militias. We saw them with our own eyes… snipers and Turkish storming groups,” the source said.
We have not seen verified reports of Turkish combat troops in Libya, only of advisers and drone specialists assisting GNA forces.