Libya ceasefire – too early to call


Turkey said it was too early to say whether a ceasefire in Libya collapsed after Khalifa Haftar, commander of eastern Libyan forces, failed to sign a binding truce accord at talks.

Russo-Turkish talks in Moscow aimed to halt Haftar’s nine-month campaign to seize Tripoli from forces aligned with the internationally recognised government of Fayez al-Serraj.

Serraj, whose embattled government struggled to repel the nine-month campaign, signed the truce proposal but Haftar left Moscow without signing. He has not said whether he will sign or not.

Turkey backs Serraj’s government, while Haftar has support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russian mercenaries.

“We cannot say the ceasefire has collapsed, it’s too early for such an interpretation,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters in Ankara. He added Ankara was awaiting the outcome of diplomacy by Moscow, which has relations with Serraj even as it has given support to Haftar.

He blamed Turkey for its recent military agreements with authorities in Libya, saying it was a clear violation of a United Nations arms embargo.

Turkey sent a training and co-operation team to Libya, Akar said. Turkey committed to military support for the Tripoli government in December after the arrival of Russian mercenaries helped Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) make gains on the Tripoli frontline.

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would “teach a lesson” to Haftar if attacks on the Tripoli-based government continued.

On Sunday, Germany will host a summit on Libya involving the rival camps, their main foreign backers and representatives from the UN, the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, Turkey and Italy. Haftar and Serraj are invited but it is unclear whether they will attend a German government spokeswoman said.

“Only a political process can help us out of this impasse. There will be no military solution,” French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

Erdogan and US President Donald Trump discussed the Libya crisis in a phone call on Wednesday, Turkey’s presidency said.