Turkey rejects criticism of secretive Libya maritime deal

Libya's Mediterranean coast. The deal with Turkey allows Ankara to claim rights over vast areas coveted by other countries. (AFP/File pic)
Updated 03 December 2019

Turkey rejects criticism of secretive Libya maritime deal

  • Agreement was signed in Istanbul on Nov. 27 with the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord
  • media reports suggest it could extend Turkey’s continental shelf by around a third

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday rejected criticism of a maritime boundary deal with Libya that allows Ankara to claim rights over vast areas coveted by other countries including Greece.
Details of the agreement, signed in Istanbul on Nov. 27 with the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayed Al-Sarraj, have yet to be released.
But media reports suggest it could extend Turkey’s continental shelf by around a third, allowing it to lay claim to recently-discovered oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
That would cut across claims by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.
“This step is a sovereign right of Libya and Turkey,” Erdogan told journalists at an Ankara airport before leaving for London.
“We will not debate this sovereign right with you. We will tell them this openly,” he said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday that he would seek support from NATO at the alliance summit opening on Tuesday in London, also being attended by Erdogan.
Greece has also threatened to expel the Libyan ambassador unless details of the agreement were provided.
Turkish media said Ankara would provide the United Nations with the coordinates of its new “exclusive economic zone” in the eastern Mediterranean once the relevant law has been passed by its parliament.


Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 53 min 49 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”