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Erdogan issues new terror warning to Europe over conflict in Libya

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters)
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19 Jan 2020 01:01:09 GMT9
19 Jan 2020 01:01:09 GMT9

Arab News

JEDDAH: Europe will face a new terrorist threat unless it steps up its support for the beleaguered Libyan government in Tripoli, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday.

The Turkish president spoke on the eve of a UN-sponsored summit of world leaders in Berlin aimed at resolving the conflict between Tripoli’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libya National Army (LNA) led by eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

“Europe will encounter a fresh set of problems and threats if Libya’s legitimate government were to fall,” Erdogan said.

“Terrorist organizations such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find fertile ground to get back on their feet. “To leave Libya at the mercy of a warlord would be a mistake of historic proportions.”

Europe is unlikely to be impressed by Erdogan’s threats, analysts told Arab News. 

“Erdogan bets on military support for the government whereas Germany, in line with the UN, wants to implement the previously agreed arms embargo. This is where Europe and Turkey need to find a common line on Sunday,” said Mercator-IPC senior fellow Michael Thumann.

The GNA, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, has been under siege by Haftar’s forces since April. Erdogan has sent Turkish military advisers and trainers to help Al-Sarraj’s forces, and has also redeployed up to 2,000 Turkish-backed mercenary fighters from the conflict in Syria.

In a veiled rebuke to Erdogan, the UN special envoy for Libya said the involvement of foreign forces was making matters worse.

“All foreign interference can provide some aspirin effect in the short term, but Libya needs all foreign interference to stop. That’s one of the objectives of this conference,” Ghassan Salame said.

The UN envoy also said he hoped but “could not predict” whether closed eastern oil ports would be reopened soon. 

Terminals across eastern and central Libya were shut on Friday by tribesmen allied to Haftar, in an attempt to choke off revenue to the government in Tripoli.

The closures are likely to be discussed at the summit. “If the thing is not solved between today and tomorrow I expect the issue to be raised, yes,” Salame said.

He said he hoped Haftar would consider extending a truce that has largely held for a week, despite the two sides failing to sign a deal at talks last week in Moscow.

The aims of Sunday’s summit are a permanent cease-fire, enforcement of a widely ignored UN arms embargo and a return to political efforts for peace.

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