Libyan FM insists on Turkish withdrawal amid controversy

Libyan FM insists on Turkish withdrawal amid opposition from government advisor
2 min read
24 April, 2021
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush has called for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from her country but a senior Libyan official said this was outside her remit
Mangoush said her country is still in dialogue with Turkey [Getty]
Libya’s new foreign minister Najla Mangoush said on Friday that her country is engaged in dialogue with Turkey but insists on the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the country.

However, her statement was contradicted by a senior adviser to the Libyan government

Turkish forces have been present in western Libya after intervening in January 2020 to repel rogue General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli.

Haftar's forces were trying to topple the former internationally-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA resigned in March following peace talks, making way for a new Government of National Unity.

"We have called on everyone, including Turkey, to cooperate in removing all foreign forces from Libyan soil," said Mangoush, during a two-day visit to Italy from Thursday, Italian news agency AKIpress reported.

At an event hosted by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Mangoush said "The Libyan Government of National Unity led by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah has started a dialogue with Turkey, and has taken note of Ankara's willingness to initiate discussions and negotiations."

The foreign minister added that "the matter is a priority for Libya because our security depends on the withdrawal of foreign forces.”

"We are aware that the issue cannot be resolved overnight, but we are confident due to the readiness that we have observed," she confirmed.

Her Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio said that the "reopening of the coastal road and the evacuation of mercenaries from Libya" was a priority for Italy.

However, following Mangoush’s comments, the Chairman of the Libyan High Council of State, Khalid al-Mishri, countered that Libya will honour agreements signed with Turkey, and that cancelling them was outside the authority of the new government.

The Libyan High Council of State is an advisory body to the government created in a 2015 attempt to end the conflict in the country.

“To the statements attributed to the Foreign Minister, which were transmitted through an Italian news agency, we affirm our honouring of the agreements signed with Turkey as we honour all previous agreements with other countries," al-Mishri said in a statement.

"We stress on respecting the road map of the Libyan political dialogue forum through which the government was formed,” he added.

The Libyan Government of National Unity is in power on an interim basis. New Libyan elections are scheduled for December 2021.

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