Turkey lambastes France for backing ‘illegitimate warlord’ in Libya

Turkey lambastes France for backing 'illegitimate warlord' in Libya
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) looks on as Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (L) shakes hands with General Khalifa Haftar (R), commander in the Libyan National Army. Photo: DPA
Turkey on Saturday accused France of "jeopardising" NATO's security by supporting Libyan rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been conducting an offensive to take the capital Tripoli since last year.

Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesman, told AFP:  “In Libya we are supporting the legitimate government and the French government is supporting an illegitimate warlord and jeopardising NATO security, Mediterranean security, North African security and Libya's political stability.”

Kalin argued that Turkey supports the position of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and that Sirte and Al-Jufra should be evacuated by Haftar's forces for a “sustainable ceasefire.”

Libya has been mired in chaos since a Western-backed  2011 uprising toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi only to leave rival warlords fighting for control of the country's oil wealth and drawing in international powers as the conflict has ebbed and flowed.

Turkey has forged strong ties with GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, sending sophisticated drones and air defence systems that helped him repel Haftar's recent offensive.

 

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A high-level Turkish delegation including Kalin, the foreign minister and intelligence chief paid a visit to Tripoli on Wednesday on an unannounced trip.

Kalin said a ceasefire in Libya would be possible if everybody went back to their positions in 2015, referring to an agreement reached that year.

“This is the position of the GNA and we support it because right now the Haftar forces are using strategic locations as their launching pad against the legitimate government,” said Kalin.

“They are also using these places to use Libyan oil resources to finance their war.”

He warned against a rushed truce.

“A rushed, premature ceasefire will not lead to what we want to achieve for all Libyans there.”

 

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