Turkey has accused Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar of seeking to “create a military dictatorship” and vowed to “defend” the government in the capital Tripoli.
Haftar’s withdrawal from a landmark 2015 United Nations-brokered agreement to unite the country – which Haftar termed “a thing of the past” on Monday – showed his true intentions, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“With this announcement, Haftar has once again demonstrated that he does not seek a political solution to the crisis in Libya, does not support international efforts in this regard … and aims to create a military dictatorship in the country,” the Turkish foreign ministry said.
In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive to wrest control of the capital from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
On Monday, after his self-styled Libyan National Army was expelled from several western cities, Haftar said he “accepted the will of the people” and vowed to create a new government.
“The political agreement destroyed the country. We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions,” he said in a televised address.
In late November, Turkey and the GNA had signed two agreements relating to enhanced security cooperation and maritime border demarcation.
GNA officials say those deals enabled their ground forces to retake large swathes of territory from Haftar, who in turn has the backing of, among others, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The ministry said the “international community should respond, without further delay, to this person, who undoubtedly exposed his intention to establish a junta regime in Libya”.
“Turkey … will definitely continue to stand by the brotherly Libyan people in defending the Government of National Accord and all other legitimate institutions of Libya established with the Libyan Political Agreement and to support the efforts for a political solution.”