Libyan PM to reassure Cairo on Turkish military presence

Libyan PM seeks to reassure Cairo on Turkish military presence during visit
3 min read
29 June, 2021
The Libyan interim prime minister, expected be in Egypt this week, will address concerns Cairo has regarding the presence of Turkish armed forces in Libya.
Cairo remains wary of Turkish military presence in Libya [Getty]

Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah will visit Egypt at the end of this week with a message of reassurance for Cairo regarding Turkey's military presence in Libya.

Dbeibah will meet with his Egyptian counterpart Mostafa Madbouli and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his official two-day trip, sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.

Dbeibah is expected to talk to Egyptian officials about why Ankara-Cairo talks that included the Libyan conflict are on hold.

According to sources, Cairo is working to prevent efforts "which seek to marginalise its (Egypt's) role or exclude it from the issue regarding Libya, either by Western or Gulf powers."

Dbeibah is expected to convey a message of reassurance to Cairo regarding his country’s security cooperation with Turkey, specifically regarding Egypt’s concerns over the establishment of foreign military bases on Libyan soil.

The sources revealed that Dbeibah will tell his counterparts in Cairo that there are no official agreements signed to set up bases, and that there is a set time frame for the presence of Turkish forces in Libya who are helping train and rebuild the country's armed forces.

Dbeibah will also stress Turkish-Libyan consensus on Egypt’s role in the reconstruction process of the war-torn nation, which, the sources said, Cairo wants to be involved in.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in an interview published Tuesday that there is strong consensus on holding parliamentary and presidential elections in Libya and the departure of foreign forces.

Responding to a question by Italian daily La Repubblica about the presence of Russian and Turkish forces in Libya, Blinken said these countries cannot ignore the consensus which agrees that foreign forces must leave the North African country.

He initially stressed that the withdrawal process of foreign forces from Libya would begin soon, but then changed his comments and said it would take some time.

Libya, torn by conflict since the toppling and killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi a decade ago, had been divided between two rival administrations: the UN-recognised Government of National Accord based in Tripoli, and its rival in the east, loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Fighting only came to a halt last summer, and a formal ceasefire in October was followed by the establishment of a new unity government led by Dbeibah. Elections are set to be held at the end of this year.

Egypt – as well as Russia and the United Arab Emirates - had long been considered one of Haftar's main supporters, but Cairo appears to have shifted its position since late last year.

Madbouli met Dbeibah in the Libyan capital in April in a sign of the warming ties between the two countries. The two leaders signed memorandums of understanding in fields such as electricity and telecommunications.

There are estimated to be more than 20,000 foreign mercenaries in the oil-rich nation. The peace agreement signed in October 2020 says they have to leave the country, but UN officials have noted that progress has not been made on this issue.