President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters Friday that his administration was keeping a close eye on the Libya situation. He referred to increased diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Libya, including Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and top military commander Yaşar Güler’s recent visits to Tripoli, as "shadow marking." Erdoğan stressed that those visits took place "as part of a certain plan."
As Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) attempts to liberate Sirte and Jufra, diplomatic talks are regaining momentum. The latest move came from Egypt, where President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar and Libyan politician Aguila Saleh before unveiling the Cairo Declaration. That document relates to a cease-fire, a road map for political reconciliation, the establishment of the Presidential Council and elections within 18 months. Although Russia and the U.S. endorsed the call for a cease-fire, the Cairo Declaration, which exclusively deals with eastern Libya and intends to keep Haftar in business, does not create common ground or reconcile other stakeholders, including Turkey. Hence Ankara’s description of the declaration as "stillborn."
Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA), the only legitimate administration and the main representative of the Libyan people, signed two memoranda of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions and security and defense cooperation on Nov. 27, 2019. After the approval of these memoranda, the Turkish Parliament authorized the deployment of Turkish soldiers in Libya on Jan. 2.
Fayez al-Sarraj, Libya’s prime minister, visited the Turkish capital on Thursday to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Unlike in the past, his hosts in Ankara welcomed a joyous Libyan leader, celebrating the liberation of Tripoli, including its international airport.
In Libya, the Government of National Accord's (GNA) forces continue to take control of critical locations around the country's capital Tripoli from militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar. After the GNA's capture of the strategic al-Watiya air base two weeks ago, it managed to then take control of Tripoli International Airport. The seizure of the airport and the surrounding areas in the south and east of the city are critical achievements for the GNA. Haftar's forces are withdrawing to eastern and southern parts of the capital after their defeats. His militias also withdrew from Tarhuna, their last remaining stronghold in the western part of Libya. At the same time, a tacit agreement from the government's side was demonstrated as GNA troops did not attack the withdrawing forces. This handling of the Tarhuna withdrawal by the GNA and the pro-Haftar elements is a diplomatically promising step toward political talks.