JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was warned on Sunday to keep his forces out of Libya or face an armed response.
The warning came from Libya’s eastern military strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the conflict with the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj.
Erdogan has sent Turkish-backed mercenaries from Syria to fight for the GNA, along with artillery and heavy weapons that have turned the tide in its favor. In a speech to troops to mark Eid Al-Adha, Haftar accused the Turkish president of “coming to Libya in search of his ancestors’ legacy.”
He said: “We tell him that we will translate the legacy of your ancestors with bullets.” For any Turkish forces in Libya, there would be “no mercy because they do not deserve mercy.”
Libyans would never accept being occupied by Turks, and would never again be colonized, Haftar said.
Samuel Ramani, a researcher at the University of Oxford in the UK, told Arab News that Haftar was escalating his rhetoric against Turkey.
“He is really emphasising that his war in Libya is not just a struggle against extremism or terrorist militias aligned with the GNA, but a struggle for Libya’s sovereignty and independence from Turkey’s hegemonic agenda.”
Haftar’s warning to Erdogan follows a verbal spat between Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, and Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE, which supports Haftar.
“Abu Dhabi does what it does in Libya, does what it does in Syria. All of it is being recorded. At the right place and time, the accounts will be settled,” Akar said. "It is necessary to ask Abu Dhabi, where this hostility, where these intentions, where this jealousy comes from.”
Gargash responded with a warning to Turkey to stop interfering in Arab affairs. “Colonialist illusions belong to the archives of history,” Gargash said. “Relations between states are not conducted with threats.”