Turkey slams France’s ‘destructive’ approach to Libya conflict

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and french President Emmanuel Macron have clashed over Libya. (AFP/FIle)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Turkey slams France’s ‘destructive’ approach to Libya conflict

  • Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accuses France of seeking to boost Russian presence in Libya

ANKARA Turkey on Tuesday blasted France’s “destructive” approach to the conflict in Libya and accused it of seeking to increase Russian presence there.
It was the latest in a string of increasingly testy exchanges between the two NATO allies over the issue.
“France, which Macron governs or rather which he can’t manage to govern at the moment, has been in Libya only for its own interests and ambitions with a destructive approach just like it pushed Africa to instability in the past with a colonialist approach, and like it bombed and quit Libya in 2011,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
Cavusoglu also said France was working against NATO and in favor of Russia in Libya.
“On one side, NATO sees Russia as a threat but on the other side NATO ally France is working to increase Russia’s presence there,” he said.
Macron on Monday accused Turkey of “criminal responsibility” over its involvement in the Libyan conflict.
Oil-rich Libya was thrown into chaos after dictator Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
Rival administrations and militias have been vying for power ever since, increasingly drawing in foreign countries and threatening the region’s stability.
Tensions have been building over the last year between Macron and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, notably when the French leader said the lack of NATO response to a unilateral Turkish operation in northern Syria showed the alliance was undergoing “brain death.”
Some analysts suspect France is backing Haftar alongside Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, but Paris insists it is neutral in the conflict.


Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

An image grab taken from a video released on July 3, 2020, by the Turkish Defence Ministry shows Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (C) greeting Libyan officials upon his arrival in Tripoli. (AFP)
Updated 06 July 2020

Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

  • Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups

BENGHAZI: Warplanes struck overnight at an air base that was recently recaptured by Libya’s internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said.
The strikes were carried out by “unknown aircraft,” the military source with the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said.
A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.
Al-Watiya’s recapture in May by the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli marked the start of a sudden collapse of the LNA’s 14-month assault to seize the capital and its retreat along the coast to the new frontlines.
Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups.
A Turkish source said last month that Turkey was in talks with the GNA to establish two bases in Libya, one of them at Watiya, the most important air base in western Libya.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in Tripoli for meetings with the GNA on Friday and Saturday and Akar swore to do all that was necessary to help it, a Turkish Defense Ministry statement said.
Last month, the US said Russia had sent at least 14 MiG29 and Su-24 warplanes to an LNA base via Syria, where their Russian airforce markings were removed.
Turkish involvement in Libya has also angered France and Greece and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of new sanctions on Ankara.
The GNA and LNA are now mobilizing forces at the new frontlines between the cities of Misrata and Sirte.