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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Erdogan-Trump meeting: reach agreement on Libya

Turkish President Erdogan said that he and his US counterpart Donald Trump had reached an agreement over Libya, without elaborating further. He also hinted at a possible rapprochement with Russia. Turkey is one of the main stakeholders in Libya, and this comes as good news for the Turkish and UN-backed GNA in Libya.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said he reached “some agreements” with US counterpart Donald Trump over Libya during telephone talks. This comes in the backdrop of recent developments in Libya, where the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord has succeeded in beating back Haftar’s forces and wresting control of much of the land.

Ankara supports Libya’s UN-recognised Government of national accord (GNA)and has stepped up military support to Tripoli against warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The United States officially backs the GNA, but Haftar is supported by Washington’ sallies Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan-Trump meeting: new era of cooperation between US and Turkey

“After our call this evening, there could be a new era between the US and Turkey regarding the (Libya) process,” Erdogan told state broadcaster TRT.

Read more: Turkey blames France for instability in Libya

“We reached some agreements during our call” over Libya, he said, and alluded to a “possible step” the two countries could take together but offered no details.

However, indicating the significance of Moscow in the Libyan conflict, Erdogan said he would need to also hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss what steps could be taken regarding Libya. This meeting would come after the Erdogan-Trump meeting, it is forecasted by analysts.

Russia has been accused of sending several thousand mercenaries from private Russian security company Wagner to support Haftar, accusations the Kremlin denies.

The Turkish leader said while Moscow denied any of its soldiers were in Libya, there was Russian military hardware in the north African country including combat jets.

Earlier on Monday, the Turkish presidency said in a statement that Erdogan and Trump had “agreed to continue their close cooperation to promote peace and stability in Libya.”

Turkey’s support to the GNA against Khalifa Haftar 

Turkey has helped the GNA, with drones and air defence systems, inflict a series of battlefield setbacks in recent weeks on Haftar’s forces who have been fighting to take Tripoli since April last year.

In the interview, Erdogan also said “developments showed Haftar could be excluded from the peace process at any moment”.

Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj was in Ankara last week, where he said his forces were “determined” to take over the entire country from his rival Haftar.

Last month, US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo criticised the flow of weapons into Libya and urged a ceasefire during a call with Sarraj.

Read more: US urges immediate halt to military offensive by Libya’s Haftar: Pompeo

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of long time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

But the latest phase of the conflict began after Turkey signed security and maritime agreements with Libya’s GNA late last year.

16,000 displaced even as Erdogan-Trump meeting makes future plans

More than 16,000 Libyans have been displaced during recent battles that saw forces of the UN-recognised government wrest back control of western Libya from strongman Khalifa Haftar, the UN said Sunday. This adds insult upon injury of the people of Libya, who were once citizens of a wealthy and rapidly developing country but are now reduced to mere pawns in the power struggle between two major powers.

The UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement it was “alarmed by the harm inflicted on the civilian population by the continuing cycle of violence in Libya”.

Read more: NATO vs Russia: Who will win Libya?

“The recent military movements in Greater Tripoli and Tarhuna have led to new waves of displacement and suffering of over 16,000 Libyans in the past few days,” it said.

Backed by Turkey, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli has in recent weeks retaken all remaining outposts of western Libya from pro-Haftar loyalists.

Background of the Second Civil War 

Oil-rich Libya has been in chaos since the Arab spring movement and Nato bombing campaign that toppled Gaddafi in 2011. Attempts to build a democratic state after Gaddafi fell disintegrated into a new civil war between rival governments in 2014.

Read more: Libyan general Khalifa Haftar received arms from Iran: Israel

Since 2014 the fighting has mainly been between rival centres of political power in east and west Libya: the Tripoli administration, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Sarraj, and the Tobruk administration, which decamped to the eastern city after disputed elections. The Tobruk government appointed Haftar to lead the Libyan National Army (LNA) and restore its sovereignty.

While the GNA is officially recognised by the UN as Libya’s legitimate government, and is backed by Turkey, it holds little power on the ground, and some distrust its politics. Haftar’s supporters say he is a bulwark against extremism, while others see him as another would-be military dictator.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk