Turkey says it won’t send more advisers to Libya while cease-fire is observed

World powers have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to find a political solution to the grinding conflict. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 23 January 2020

Turkey says it won’t send more advisers to Libya while cease-fire is observed

  • The airport has been hit multiple times since the start of a months-long offensive by fighters led by eastern-based commander Haftar
  • Mitiga airport authorities said late Wednesday they were suspending air traffic “until further notice” after Haftar’s spokesman threatened to attack planes flying over the city

MOSCOW: Turkey does not plan to send more military advisers to Libya while a cease-fire is being observed, Russia’s RIA news agency cited Turkey’s foreign minister as saying on Thursday.

This comes as renewed threats from forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar has forced Libya to close its only operational airport, dealing another setback to peace efforts as regional foreign ministers prepare to meet in Algeria Thursday.
The airport has been hit multiple times since the start of a months-long offensive by fighters led by eastern-based commander Haftar to seize Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Mitiga airport authorities said late Wednesday they were suspending air traffic “until further notice” after Haftar’s spokesman threatened to attack planes flying over the city.
“Any military or civilian aircraft, regardless of its affiliation, flying over the capital will be destroyed,” warned Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari, adding that such flights would be considered a violation of a cease-fire in place since January 12.
Mesmari said the internationally-backed government was using the airport for military purposes as a base for Turkish soldiers sent by Ankara to support GNA leader Fayez Al-Sarraj.
The airport earlier Wednesday suspended flights for several hours after it was targeted by six Grad rockets in an offensive the GNA blamed on its rivals in Libya’s five-year civil war. The attack took place just nine days after the facility reopened following a truce.
World powers have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to find a political solution to the grinding conflict, with neighboring Algeria the latest country to host a meeting — set for Thursday — to discuss ways forward.
The Algerian foreign ministry said chief diplomats from Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger and Mali would meet in Algiers to advance “a political settlement to the crisis through an inclusive dialogue between all parties.”


Algeria, which has stayed neutral in the Libyan conflict, shares a border of almost 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) with its neighbor, which has been rocked by violence since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Qaddafi by NATO-backed insurgents.
It did not say whether Libyan delegations had been invited to the meeting but the GNA Foreign Minister Mohamad Tahar Siala issued a statement saying he was “refusing” to take part due to the presence of his counterpart in the rival administration backed by Haftar.
The meeting comes after a summit in Berlin which saw world leaders commit to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to upholding a weapons embargo as part of a broader plan to end the conflict.
The summit plans have also seen the formation of a military commission comprising five GNA loyalists and five Haftar delegates who will seek to define ways of consolidating the cease-fire.
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council urged the parties to reach a long-term deal paving the way for a political process aimed at ending the conflict.
Despite repeated appeals from the UN’s envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, Tripoli’s GNA-held airport has been the target of several air raids and rocket strikes since Haftar’s forces launched their offensive in April.
Located east of the capital, Mitiga is a former military air base used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport was heavily damaged in fighting in 2014.
GNA forces spokesman Mohammed Gnunu branded the strikes a “flagrant threat” to the safety of air traffic and a “new violation” of the most recent cease-fire.
Haftar’s forces did not immediately respond to Wednesday’s accusations from the GNA but did say they had shot down a Turkish drone after it took off from the airport.
Haftar’s fighters accuse the GNA of using Mitiga to attack their troops in southern Tripoli, something the GNA denies.
Turkey has backed the GNA, deploying troops to Libya since early January under a controversial November deal with the Tripoli-based administration.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in the Algerian capital on Sunday at the start of a two-day visit also tied to the Libyan conflict.
Germany’s top diplomat Heiko Maas is also expected in Algiers Thursday, the Algerian foreign ministry said.
The city has hosted a string of foreign leaders and envoys for talks on the crisis, including Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the top diplomats of Egypt, Italy, Turkey and former colonial power France.


Arab and world leaders pay tribute to Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak

Updated 17 min 24 sec ago

Arab and world leaders pay tribute to Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO: World leaders have paid tribute to Egypt’s longest serving President Hosni Mubarak, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91, ending his days after a swift and ignominious tumble from power. 

The Egyptian leader was for nearly 30 years the resolute face of stability in the Middle East before being forced by the military to resign after nationwide protests that were part of the Arab world's 2011 pro-democracy upheaval. 

UAE

Rulers of the United Arab Emirates have expressed their condolences and solace on the death of Mubarak, a statement on state-run news agency WAM said. The country will also lower flags for one day in mourning. 

ISRAEL

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Mubarak for delivering "peace and security" to his people and for achieving "peace with Israel". "In the name of Israel's citizens and government, I'd like to express deep sorrow over the passing of president Hosni Mubarak," Netanyahu said, calling the long-serving Egyptian leader "a personal friend.. who brought his people to peace and security (and) to peace with Israel."

PALESTINE

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas hailed the former Egyptian president as a supporter of the Palestinian cause. A statement from Abbas's office said he mourned the death "with great sorrow" and hailed the "late president's positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people in achieving their freedom and independence".

KUWAIT

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al-Sabah also expressed sincere condolences on the death of Mubarak.

Al-AZHAR INSTITUTE 

Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb of Egypt's premier Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, has paid tribute to Mubarak, praising his national role and his prominent role as a hero in the October war in 1973.