Turkey threatens Marshal Hafter’s forces with retaliation for attack on his interests in Libya
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Given the proximity of some militias that support it with the brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Libyan national unity government [GNA], led by Fayez el-Sarraj and formed under the auspices of the United Nations, is supported by Turkey and Qatar faces its rival Tobruk, which holds its legitimacy in the parliamentary elections in June 2014. However, the latter also enjoys external support, including provided by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. And all in violation of the arms embargo decreed by the UN.
Since April, the Libyan National Army (ANL), which is commanded by Marshal Khalifa Haftar under the Tobruk government, has launched an offensive towards Tripoli, after attempting to “clean up” the southern and eastern parts of the country. Libya jihadist elements who had established themselves there. Only the militias that defend the Libyan capital, most of which are more anti-Haftar than pro-GNA, are strongly opposed.
And they even do more than resist, since last week they inflicted a major setback on the ANL by seizing the city Gharyan, which “locks” access to the Libyan capital. For example, pro-GNA fighters discovered in the arsenals of Marshal Haftar’s troops at least three American-designed Javelin anti-tank missiles, seven Norinco GP6 laser-guided artillery shells of Chinese origin, and Yabhon drones. According to pro-GNA images on social media, some of these ammunition were stored in crates marked “UAE Armed Forces – Joint Logistic Command C and F Section” and a contract number beginning with “DP3 / 2/6/1/2006.”
#Libya #Tripoli – #UAE-made UAVs – Yabhon-HMD – were seized yesterday by #GNA affiliated forces at #Gharyan. Fragments of Yabhon-HMD were already found beginning June in the western region. https://t.co/CnC8ksn9JE
— Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del) 27 June 2019
For their part, US authorities have opened an investigation into Javelin missiles found in Gharyan.
After the setback suffered in Gharyan, Marshal Haftar ordered his troops to attack Turkish interests in Libya, particularly the ships delivering military equipment to the pro-GNA militias. And, a few hours later, the ANL claimed to have shot down a Turkish “Bayraktar” MALE [Medium Altitude Long Endurance] drone at the time of its take-off from the runway of the Mitiga Airport military zone.
In addition, the Tobruk government has asked Turkish nationals to leave Libya and banned all ministries, public institutions and other banks from dealing with Turkish companies.
However, Ankara did not fail to react. “There will be a very high price to pay for any hostile attitude or attack. We will respond in the most effective and strong way,” warned Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defense minister. And “all sorts of measures” have been taken “to face any threat or hostile action against Turkey, he added, assuring that Turkish efforts in Libya were “to contribute to peace and security in the region.”
Then Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused forces close to Marshal Haftar of detaining six Turkish nationals.
“The detention of six of our fellow citizens by illegal militias linked to Haftar is an act of violence and piracy,” Cavusoglu said. “We expect our citizens to be released immediately,” he continued, because otherwise Marshal Haftar’s forces would become “legitimate targets.”
Do these words announce a greater involvement of Ankara in the Libyan conflict? Meanwhile, according to the ANL spokesman, Turkey would already be engaged in “direct way” in Libya, with “soldiers, its planes and its ships by the sea.”
In any case, it is certain that the latter benefit from material support from Ankara. Moreover, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself recognized June 19. Thus, he explained, the arms deliveries by Turkey to pro-GNA militias have helped to “rebalance” the situation against the ANL.