Libya PM accuses Turkey of arming rival Tripoli faction
Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister has accused Turkey of transferring weapons to a rival faction in the nation’s capital of Tripoli, vowing his government will halt its dealings with Ankara.
“Turkey is a state that is not dealing honestly with us. It’s exporting weapons to us so the Libyan people kill each other,” said Abdullah al-Thani in a late Thursday interview with Egypt’s CBC TV channel as cited in Friday press reports.
The development comes as two rival administrations in the North African country, one based in the capital and Thani’s based in the east, have been battling over power since the militant group Libyan Dawn took over Tripoli in July and reinstated lawmakers from a previous assembly nearly four years after the nation’s former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in a popular uprising.
Thani’s administration had announced earlier in the week that it would exclude Turkish companies from future deals with Libya, accusing Ankara of supporting the rival government in Tripoli.
“We don’t say we are hostile to Turkey but we say we don’t deal with it,” Thani reportedly said.
Turkey fires back
Turkey, meanwhile, reacted strongly to the Libyan allegation, denying Thani’s charges.
“Instead of repeating the same baseless and untrue allegations we advise them to support UN efforts for political dialogue,” said Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman, Tanju Bilgic. “Our policy vis-à-vis Libya is very clear. We are against any external intervention in Libya and we fully support the ongoing political dialogue process under UN mediation.”
Turkey is one of the few countries that have openly received officials from the Tripoli administration and parliament.
This is while Thani has also accused the Persian Gulf state of Qatar of providing “material” support to the rival government in the Libyan conflict, though he did not elaborate.
Vowing joint Libya-Egypt airstrikes on ISIL
On Friday, Thani threatened new joint airstrikes with Egypt against alleged ISIL elements in his country, warning that the Takfiri terror group was poised to widen its presence there.
He was referring to February 16 airstrikes on the ISIL stronghold in the eastern Libyan city of Derna after the foreign-backed terrorist group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt.
Thani was speaking to journalists after a meeting with Egyptian officials on the security situation in Libya, where the ISIL militants have recently gained a foothold among the variety of forces vying for control of the oil-rich nation.
He further underlined on Friday that his administration along with Egypt would act independently, calling for arms supplies to his government.
“Any time there is a danger and a threat, there will be airstrikes, in complete coordination between Egypt and Libya,” he said.
Following this month’s airstrikes, in which Libyan forces also took part, Cairo urged international intervention against alleged ISIL elements, a call that was met with reticence by major powers.