Tripoli: – Rebel leader General Khalifa Haftar threatened Turkey of increasing the period of military deployment in Libya. Haftar threatened, ‘The time for Turkish colonialism is over. Therefore, Turkey should immediately withdraw from Libya.’ Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar warned that if Turkish soldiers in Libya are targeted, the Haftar rebels and their supporters will be targeted. It is claimed that the Turkish Defence Minister’s warning is also for Russia, France, UAE and Egypt, the supporters of Haftar rebels.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar visited Libya two days ago. Turkey had announced that this visit of the Defence Minister was to sign a defence cooperation agreement with the Fayez al-Sarraj government in Libya. Before the visit of Akar, the Turkish parliament cleared the proposals for arms supply to Libya and increased the military deployment period in this north African country by 18 months. Due to this decision, mercenaries’ deployment also increased by 18 months, along with the Turkish soldiers. As per the terms of the ceasefire agreed between the government and the rebels in October, all the foreign soldiers and mercenaries needed to be withdrawn from Libya within three months. These included Turkish and Russian mercenaries. Turkey then took this decision of extending the military deployment in Libya by 18 months. Infuriated by the Turkish decision, the Libyan rebels accused Turkey of violating the terms of the ceasefire.
Angered by the Turkish decision, rebel leader General Khalifa Haftar warned Turkey to leave Libya. Haftar criticised, ‘Peace and security cannot be established in the country until Turkish soldiers are present in the country. The presence of Turkish soldiers here is an insult to our country.’ Haftar warned, ‘If the Turkish government is not going to abide by the terms of a ceasefire, we are prepared to again pick up arms for peace in Libya.’
Haftar accused that Turkish President Erdogan is harbouring an ambition of converting Libya into a Turkish colony. Haftar warned, ‘There are two options for colonial Turkey, either withdraw peacefully from Libya or be prepared for a forced expulsion.’ Simultaneously, the rebel leader claimed that the Turkish soldiers and mercenaries are preparing for a war in Libya. Haftar warned that Turkey should be prepared to die if the first bullet is fired from its side. Turkish Defence Minister was present in Libya when the rebel leader issued these warnings. Defence Minister Akar justified the Turkish military deployment in Libya. At the same time, Akar announced that if any Turkish soldier or interest comes under threat, Haftar rebels and their supporters will be targeted.
Dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s rule was overthrown, and he was killed by the extremists in the civil war sparked in 2011. Following this, a power struggle started in these very extremist groups. Finally, five years ago, the United Nations recognised the government of the extremist front of Sarraj. But this divided the Libyan military into two groups. Those loyal to General Khalifa Haftar rebelled against the Sarraj government, and the conflict has continued in Libya ever since. The possibility of Libya being pushed into a civil war after a gap of one month is becoming stronger.