Turkey will not refrain from “teaching a lesson” to Khalifa Haftar if his eastern Libyan forces continue attacks against the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Earlier this week Turkey and Russia failed to convince Haftar to sign a truce halting his nine-month campaign to take the Libyan capital from forces aligned with the internationally recognised government.
Fayez al-Serraj, who heads the Tripoli-based government, signed the truce proposal after indirect talks in Mosocw on Monday while Haftar left the Russian capital without signing.
The Russian defence ministry was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Haftar was positive about the ceasefire and was taking two days to consider it.
Erdogan said Haftar “ran away”. Turkey’s parliament voted this month to allow a troop deployment to help the Tripoli government to fend off Haftar, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Russian mercenaries.
“If the putschist Haftar’s attacks against the people and legitimate government of Libya continue, we will not refrain from teaching him the lesson he deserves,” Erdogan said in a speech to AK Party lawmakers in parliament.
“It is our duty to protect our kin in Libya,” Erdogan added.
He said Turkey had historical and social ties with the North African country and Haftar would have taken over the entire nation if Ankara had not intervened.
Turkey will join Germany, Britain and Russia at a summit on Libya in Berlin on Sunday, he said.
Haftar’s office and his forces did not officially confirm their commander’s rejection of the truce proposal, but a website linked to the forces said he would not sign.
Haftar and Serraj did not meet in Moscow talking via Turkish and Russian mediators. They last met in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 before talks broke down over a power-sharing deal and Haftar moved troops on Tripoli in April, after expanding his control beyond the east and south.
Serraj told Reuters in June he would never sit down again with Haftar.
Haftar’s troops have not breached Tripoli’s defences but made small advances with help from Russian mercenaries, residents say. That pushed Turkey, which has business interests in the country, to deploy soldiers to Libya to help the Tripoli government.