Libya's Haftar must choose political over military solution: Turkey
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 3:10 PM
Turkey says Khalifa Haftar, the commander of rebel militia in Libya, must submit to international calls for a political solution to the persisting armed conflict in the North African country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remark during an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, two days after a multinational peace summit was held on the Libyan conflict in the German capital, Berlin.
Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya: the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar's militia.
The rebels launched an offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, in April last year, interrupting peace negotiations underway at the time. Despite intense fighting, Haftar has so far failed to achieve his objective and his offensive has stalled outside the capital.
On Sunday, leaders from Turkey, Russia, Egypt, France, Italy, Britain, and the United States, as well as Sarraj and Haftar, attended a United Nations (UN)-backed summit in Berlin to help establish a "permanent" ceasefire between the warring sides.
The final communiqué of the day-long summit, the first such event since 2018, called on all the parties concerned in the conflict "to redouble their efforts for a sustained suspension of hostilities, de-escalation and a permanent ceasefire." Participants also pledged not to interfere in Libya's internal affairs and its conflict. They also agreed to "fully respect" the arms embargo imposed on the North African country by the UN in 2011.
However, Haftar refused to sign the joint communiqué produced in Berlin.
Cavusoglu further said on Tuesday that Haftar's refusal to sign the communiqué raised questions about his intent.
"Does Haftar want a political or military solution? Until now, his stance has shown he wants a military one," the Turkish foreign minister said. "Haftar must immediately fall back to the political solution line and take concrete and positive steps in line with calls of the international community for calm on the ground."
Turkey reached a military agreement with the Libyan government recently and, on a request from Sarraj, pledged to send troops to the North African country to help his government defend itself against Haftar's attacks.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Ankara had not yet sent troops to war-torn Libya, stressing that his country had so far only deployed military advisers and trainers there.
The apparent retreat was due to the general agreement in Berlin to refrain from interfering in Libyan affairs.
Pointing to that agreement, Cavusoglu said, "There were calls for no one to send additional forces or weapons there. All participants pledged to abide by this as long as the ceasefire continues."
He was referring to a ceasefire that has been shakily holding around the capital since January 11. Two days later, Turkey and Russia mediated peace talks between Sarraj and Haftar to shore up that ceasefire; but the talks ended without result when Haftar walked away.
Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his execution by unruly fighters.
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