Libya Crisis: Haftar Accused of Trying to Create Military Dictatorship

Written by | Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

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 UN-brokered agreement to unite the country – which Haftar termed “a thing of the past” earlier this week– showed his true intentions, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (29 April). In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive to wrest control of the capital from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). But on Monday (27 April), 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.
Last 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”. Meanwhile, the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has also protested over what it said was an unauthorised flight over territory under its control by a French-built Rafale warplane. It said the Rafale and a refuelling aircraft flew over Misrata, 200 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, and Abu Grein, a combat zone further east.
While Paris officially backs efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflict, analysts say it has often acted in support of Haftar.Shortly after Haftar announced his offensive, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj accused France of supporting a “dictator”.”When [French President] Emmanuel Macron called me, I warned him that public opinion was against France. We don’t want Libyans to hate France. France still has a positive and important role to play,” al-Sarraj said at the time. In July 2019, four French-made anti-tank missiles were found on a base south of the capital Tripoli, used by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar. But France denied breaching a UN arms embargo, with the country’s defence ministry saying the “unusable” US-made Javelin missiles were never intended to be passed to any group, and were due to be destroyed.

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