Turkish intervention risks Syria scenario for Libya, say experts

Libyan protesters gather during a demonstration against the Turkish parliament's decision to send Turkish forces to Libya, in Benghazi, Libya January 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 05 January 2020

Turkish intervention risks Syria scenario for Libya, say experts

  • Ankara has already sent the GNA drones, according to the UN

PARIS: Turkey’s decision to approve the deployment of troops to Libya risks plunging the North African nation deeper into a Syrian-style proxy war between regional powers including Russia, experts warn.
Turkey and Qatar have taken the side of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli, which has been under sustained attack since April from the forces of eastern-based military strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar, who has superior air power, is backed by Turkey’s regional rivals. On Thursday, Turkish MPs passed a bill approving a military deployment in Libya to bolster the beleaguered GNA.
No date was given for the potential troop deployment, which would draw Ankara deeper into a conflict in which Haftar’s forces, who oppose Islamist movements close to Ankara, have the upper hand.
Ankara has already sent the GNA drones, according to the UN.
Some reports have suggested that Ankara has sent in some of the Syrian rebels that led a Turkish intervention against a Kurdish militia in northeast Syria in October.
Russia, whose military intervention in Syria helped turn the tide of that conflict in President Bashar Assad’s favor in 2015, has denied sending mercenaries to Libya.
But the UN’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, has slammed the foreign interference in a conflict that has turned Libya into a haven for militants and migrant smugglers.
“Arms are coming in from everywhere,” he told AFP in an interview in late November, accusing unnamed “external parties” of causing increased civilian casualties through drone strikes.
Like the Syrian conflict, the Libyan war has developed into a “very complex” power play between Ankara and Moscow who are not allies but whose interests sometimes converge, Jalel Harchaoui, a researcher on Libya at Dutch think tank Clingendael Institute, told AFP.
Europe, meanwhile, has been relegated to the role of onlookers, in a war which has facilitated the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.
Attempts by French President Emmanuel Macron to broker a peace deal by inviting Haftar to talks in Paris with the GNA in 2017, have come to naught.
As France scales back its mediation attempts following criticism of its perceived pro-Haftar bias, Germany has stepped in to try fill the void.
Berlin has invited regional players to a UN-backed conference in Berlin planned for January.
“The West isn’t leading the way in Libya. The Russians and Turks will do their own Yalta on Libya,” Harchaoui predicted.

 


Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

Updated 57 min 17 sec ago

Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

  • Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights
  • After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups

Yemen’s internationally recognized government will begin the first evacuation flights for citizens who have been stranded abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency SABA reported. 
The first evacuation flight will be sent to Jordan on Thursday, a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed with Yemen’s Supreme National Emergency Committee for COVID-19 heard. 
This came after the committee approved the protocol for evacuating citizens stranded abroad, which includes procedures and timetables for scheduling the return of citizens to Yemen, and organizing specific health and precautionary controls and procedures, the news agency said. 
The authorities are tasked with the rapid implementation of precautionary measures in preparation for the returning citizens. 

RELATED: Yemenis stranded in India call to be repatriated as fear of coronavirus infection rises
Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights. Yemeni nationals will be tested prior to travel and will receive a health certificate from an accredited medical center.
After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups, treatment and to keep track of their data. Returning nationals will also be required to self-quarantine at home.  
Stranded nationals will be informed of flight times immediately after the necessary permits with the countries in which they are in are completed, the committee said. 
The Minister of Public Health and head of the committee, Dr Nasser Baoum, and Deputy Prime Minister Salem Al-Khanbashi presented a report on the development of the situation in Aden. The report discussed the establishment of a medical unit for the treatment and reception of cases of coronavirus infection. 
The committee also reviewed the report submitted by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Hussein Mansour, on those stranded in Saudi Arabia and discussed measures for their return. Mansour said discussions were in place with Saudi official to schedule their return.
In Yemen, scores of COVID-19 cases have been recorded across the country, but the UN warns that the virus is spreading largely undetected. Hundreds of people in the interim capital Aden have died in the past week with symptoms of what appears to be the coronavirus, local health officials said.
The officials fear the situation is only going to get worse as Yemen has little capacity to treat those suspected of having the virus.