Turkey and Russia agreed on Wednesday to push for a ceasefire in war-torn Libya, but Ankara said the chief of eastern forces was illegitimate and had to withdraw from key positions for a credible truce. take root.
Moscow and Ankara are among the main intermediaries of power in the Libyan conflict while supporting the opposing camps. Russia is supporting the east-based forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey has helped the Tripoli-based National Accord Government (GNA) repel Haftar’s attempt to storm the capital.
“We have just reached an agreement with Russia to work for a credible and lasting ceasefire in Libya,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief security adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters news agency.
Kalin said any deal must be based on a return to what he said were the Libyan front lines in 2015, forcing Haftar’s forces to withdraw from the strategic city of Sirte – the gateway to the oil fields from eastern Libya – and al-Jufra, an air base near the center of the country.
“For the ceasefire to be sustainable, Jufra and Sirte would have to be evacuated by Haftar’s forces,” Kalin said.
Battle for Sirte
The forces supported by Turkey and allied with the government recognized by the UN in the capital are mobilizing on the edges of Sirte and have sworn to take back the Mediterranean city with the internal air base of al-Jufra.
The United States said Moscow sent fighter jets to al-Jufra via Syria to support Russian mercenaries fighting alongside Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army (LNA). Russia and the ANL deny it.
Egypt, which also supports the LNA, threatened to send troops to neighboring Libya if the GNA and Turkish forces attempted to capture Sirte. The Egyptian parliament on Sunday gave the green light to a possible military intervention.
Kalin said any Egyptian deployment to Libya would hamper efforts to end the fighting and would be risky for Cairo. “I believe it will be a dangerous military adventure for Egypt. ”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said on Wednesday that achieving a political solution in Libya required a “firm” response to “extremists” and foreign interference, which “threatens not only the interests of Egypt but also the security of Mediterranean countries ”.
He noted a peace proposal announced in Cairo last month aimed at stabilizing Libya and eliminating armed fighters and militias in the oil-rich country.
The proposal announced by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi included a ceasefire and a new elected presidential body representing the three Libyan regions. The camp in eastern Libya accepted the proposal, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, while the Tripoli-based administration rejected it.
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Wednesday’s joint agreement between Turkey and Russia on their ceasefire efforts included a call for measures to allow humanitarian access to those in need and efforts to promote political dialogue between the parties. rivals of Libya.
But Kalin said Haftar violated previous truce agreements and was not a reliable partner, suggesting other prominent figures in the East should play a role.
“We do not take [Haftar] as a legitimate actor anyway, “he said.” But there is another parliament in Tobruk. There are other players in Benghazi. Negotiations will have to take place between them. ”
The ANL itself has sent fighters and weapons to bolster its defense of Sirte, already badly battered by previous phases of war and chaos since the 2011 revolution against longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it supports a ceasefire and political talks that will lead to a union of government authorities. Russia received high-level delegations from both sides of the Libyan conflict in Moscow and tried unsuccessfully to get Haftar to sign a ceasefire agreement.
“All kinds of bullying”
Shukry’s comments came in separate phone calls with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, according to a statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
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Erdogan, meanwhile, chaired a high-level security meeting focusing on Libya on Wednesday.
A statement issued after the National Security Council meeting said Turkey would not hesitate to take all necessary measures against “all kinds of bullying” taking place in Libya.
The council promised to “stand by the side of the Libyan people against all tyranny”.
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other foreign powers have provided Haftar’s forces with essential military assistance.
Russia also sent hundreds of mercenaries through the Wagner Group, a private military company.
Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 overthrew Gaddafi who was later killed.