Libya’s ongoing military impasse, which has embroiled the North African country since the beginning of April, is drawing in another regional player, with Turkey’s foreign minister making threats against renegade General Khalifa Hafter during the G20 Summit in Japan.
During the summit, Turkish Defence Minister Huluski Akar warned that Haftar’s forces would pay a “very heavy price” for any attacks on Turkish interests, the Libya Observer reported.
Akar’s warning followed threats by Hafter to target Turkish interests in Libya, including companies, Turkish cargo vessels in Libyan waters, and commercial flights, as well as arrest Turkish nationals and close down their businesses.
Hafter’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the east of the country, invaded Tripoli in the west at the beginning of April in an endeavour to overthrow the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based there in an ongoing power struggle.
The fighting between GNA forces and the LNA, which supports the opposition House of Representatives (HoR) government in Tobruk, has reached a stalemate with hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
The renegade general, who reportedly gets support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France, accuses Ankara of supporting the GNA with rumours circulating that Turkish officers are operating in Libya.
On Saturday at the G20 Summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned that his country would take all the necessary measures to respond to Hafter’s threats.
However, an unrepentant Hafter has reportedly already ordered the shutdown of shops and restaurants that have Turkish names or have Turkish goods and foods in the east of the country.
Abiding by his orders, Ajdabiya security directorate said it had arrested two Turkish nationals working in the city and closed all Turkish restaurants and shops, saying this act was aimed at abiding by the orders of Haftar’s general command that said: “Turkey is backing terrorist groups in Libya.”
– African News Agency