TRIPOLI – No senior Turkish official appears to have been excluded from the high-level delegation that traveled to Tripoli to meet with Libyan officials on Monday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan and Chief of Staff Yasar Guler to Tripoli to brief Libyan officials and countries from the region that the Turkish intervention in Libya was not an accident and that Turkey is here to stay.
Cavusoglus’ statements, in response to his Libyan counterpart Najla Al-Manqoush’s call for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, suggested that Turkey rejected Libya’s military withdrawal.
His response reduced intense speculation that the visiting delegation might consider how to withdraw Turkish forces and Syrian mercenaries sent by Ankara to fight alongside forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) during the military campaign. to thwart the Libyan national armies. attack on Tripoli.
Manqoush had asked Turkey to cooperate to end the presence of foreign forces in the country.
We call on (Turkey) to take measures to implement all provisions of Security Council resolutions and to cooperate together to expel all foreign and mercenary forces from Libyan territories, she said.
Cavusoglu responded by saying that military cooperation with Libya was conducted at the request of the government of the day.
He also criticized those who equate our legal presence with groups of foreign mercenaries who fight in this country for money.
Cooperation between Turkey and Libya within the framework of a military agreement signed at the end of 2019 has prevented Libya from sinking into civil war, he argued.
Our support paved the way for a ceasefire and the installation of a new unified political executive, he added.
He stressed Turkey’s support to the Libyan government in meeting the demands of the Libyan people, noting that consultations are underway for the return of Turkish companies to Libya.
He went on to say: We discussed the maritime demarcation agreement in Libya and the next steps we will take, and added that his country attaches great importance to the preservation of territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and political unity of Libya.
He also expressed his pride in his country’s presence in Libya.
The preservation of the Libyan border demarcation agreement signed by Turkey with the Presidency Council of the National Accord government led by Fayez al-Sarraj in November 2019 is one of the most crucial challenges facing Turkey. in Libya, especially in light of Athens’ efforts to cancel. the agreement because of its conflict with Greek interests.
A Libyan government delegation that included 15 ministers, in addition to Chief of Staff Muhammad Al-Haddad, visited Turkey three weeks ago and signed five agreements covering a range of areas.
Another challenge for Turkey is the push by Arab Gulf countries to enter the Libyan market via Egyptian economic operators.
A large delegation from the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association will attend the Arab Investment Forum to be held in Tripoli next September to discuss investment opportunities.
Arab Weekly has learned that active participation from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is expected at the event in hopes of securing a significant share of investment opportunities in the Libyan market. .
Commenting on the visit of Turkish delegations to Egypt and Libya, Turkish Justice and Development Party spokesperson Omar Celik said: “Our actions continue with Libya and are going through a delicate stage. As for our problems with Egypt, we are working on creating new mechanisms to discuss them.
Egypt considers the withdrawal of Syrian mercenaries from western Libya as a condition for normalizing relations with Turkey.
Observers do not rule out that Turkey, in an attempt to appease Egypt, could evacuate Syrian mercenaries while maintaining Turkish forces in one of the military bases in western Libya, possibly the military base. from Al-Wattiyah.
The Turkish Defense Minister met, on Monday, Mohammed Al-Haddad, the Libyan chief of staff, in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Akar and the Turkish Chief of Staff visited the Turkish Task Force Command in Libya.
Observers rule out a full Turkish military withdrawal from Libya.
Turkish forces will not leave Libya, even if the ceasefire agreement calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters, said Aya Burwila, senior adviser at the Research Institute for European and American Studies.
Burwila called for an international coalition to contain Turkey and prevent Erdogan governments from continuing to encroach on decisions affecting the future of the Libyan state.
She stressed that Turkey, its proxies and Islamist forces in war-torn Libya would do everything possible to ensure that the presidential and parliamentary elections in the country do not go as planned.
Turks don’t want elections in Libya because they know Islamists have no future in Libya, Burawela said in a radio interview on the Ahval website.
For its part, the Libyan government is trying to convince Ankara of the need to withdraw the Syrian mercenaries, as Najla Al-Manqoush had previously expressed, in the hope that the authorities in the eastern region would take a similar step that would lead to the exit of Russian mercenaries Wagner from bases in the east and south of the country.
The Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibeh, had previously sent letters to the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Marshal Khalifa Haftar and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Parliament) Aguila Saleh, concerning the presence of the Wagner mercenaries. According to numerous media reports, the LNA has been accused in the past of receiving help from Wagners.
In statements relayed by the local television station in February, Dbeibeh warned against parties seeking to rekindle war in the country.
He explained in the interview that he was prevented from landing at Sirte airport because of mercenaries.
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