President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted talks with Fayez Al-Sarraj of Libya on Sunday in Istanbul, as the two strengthened their security commitments in the face of both a renewed offensive on Tripoli at home and heightened tensions over the Eastern Mediterranean within the international community.
Sarraj, the head of the Government of National Accord, said the two leaders discussed the security agreement signed last month. The meeting comes as Turkey’s parliament is expected to approve measures to facilitate a rapid-response force to assist Libya in its fight against Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA).
That fight escalated on Thursday as Haftar, at the center of power in the country’s east, called for a new “Zero Hour” to end the Libyan crisis with a decisive win in Tripoli. The LNA subsequently issued a statement warning of actions against Misrata as well because of what it says is documented evidence of Turkish military equipment in and around the city.
The LNA warned that civilians in Misrata may be at risk because the presence of Turkish weapons and supplies “will be targeted without hesitation or delay after this clear and final warning.”
Turkey and Qatar – where Sarraj separately met with Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Saturday – have long been accused of backing the GNA in violation of an international arms embargo, while Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are among nations believed to support Haftar.
Turkey and the GNA have also entered into a maritime agreement that has drawn protests from Greece and the European Union because of impacts to Cyprus and the longstanding territorial dispute over the island. “This attitude will not succeed in dissuading us from defending the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Turkey’s foreign ministry on Friday.
Image: Turkish presidency