Libyan Warlord Declares “Jihad” Against Turkey
By Ghaith Alsanusi, a Libyan-Canadian human rights activist based in Winnipeg
In what reminds us of Muammar Gaddafi during his final days in power, warlord Khalifa Haftar appears on television and declares Jihad and general mobilization as Turkey prepares to deploy troops to support the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Erdogan’s decision to deploy troops to assist the Tripoli-based Government of Fayez al-Sarraj was approved by parliament on Thursday, but deployment could still be unlikely if Khalifa Haftar halts his offensive on the Libyan capital.
General Haftar’s self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive in April 2019, against the UN-backed government in Tripoli. The armed conflict in the southern outskirts of Tripoli has so far resulted in more than 2000 deaths and over 140 thousand people displaced.
While the GNA was left stranded, General Haftar’s forces have received assistance from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and France in the battle to take control of Tripoli, including support from foreign mercenaries and paramilitary groups from Russia and Sudan.
Tripoli’s request for military assistance from Ankara comes after the increasing presence of Russian mercenaries fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Officials in the West have revealed that over 1000 Wagner mercenaries have been deployed to the frontlines in Tripoli in recent months, fueling the conflict even further.
The United Arab Emirates which has been operating in Al-Khadim airbase in East Libya since 2015, has condemned the Turkish decision to send military forces to Libya, saying that such interference represents a clear threat to Arab national security and the stability of the Mediterranean region.
Observers warn of further escalation in the region that would attract more players and lead to stronger engagement by General Haftar’s allies. An intervention by Turkey would threaten the balance that has been established in favor of warlord Khalifa Haftar and lead to further retreat of his forces from the Western region.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer