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France playing 'dangerous game' in Libya, says Turkey

Turkey's foreign ministry hit back at criticism from France's president [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 June, 2020

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'France has a major responsibility for Libya being dragged into chaos by supporting illegal structures there for years', Turkey's foreign ministry said in response to criticism from Macron.
Turkey on Tuesday fired back at France, accusing it of "playing a dangerous game in Libya" by supporting military leader Khalifa Haftar against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli

"France has a major responsibility for Libya being dragged into chaos by supporting illegal structures there for years, and therefore, it is actually France which is playing a dangerous game in Libya," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

In a sign of mounting tensions between two NATO allies, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Ankara Monday of playing a "dangerous game" in the north African country that can no longer be tolerated.

Turkey supports the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the conflict and its military support has helped Tripoli make gains against rebel strongman Haftar, who is backed Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

France is suspected of supporting Haftar as well, but insists it is neutral in the conflict.

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Libya has been mired in violence, with tribal militias, extremist militants and merceneries active since the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. 

Haftar, a former Gaddafi-era general who defected decades ago to go to the US, has been battling to take Tripoli since last year.

Tensions have been escalating between Turkey and France since Ankara's unilateral military operation in Syria against the Kurdish militia force. Macron said at the time that NATO was in the throes of a "brain death". 

The French leader repeated his controversial comment Monday, describing Turkey's behaviour as an example that the military alliance had suffered a "brain death".

Ankara said Turkey had a "strong position" in the alliance which maintained its functions even during the Covid-19 pandemic and condemned Macron's controversial comment as a sign of a "distorted approach".

"We are inviting France and the French president to act with the seriousness of a state ... to stop taking steps jeopardising the safety and future of Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean and to use existing channels of dialogue," the ministry said.

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