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Turkey's actions in Libya impinge on Arab national security: Arab League head

Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit warned against the 'internationalisation' of the Libyan crisis

Ahmed Morsy , Wednesday 15 Jul 2020
Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit
Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit
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Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed ­­Aboul-Gheit has reiterated the body’s rejection of "illegal Turkish interventions" in the internal affairs of Arab countries, specifically in Iraq, Syria and Libya, warning that Ankara's actions are threatening the whole of Arab national security.

Aboul-Gheit made the remarks during an interview with Aly Hassan, the editor-in-chief of MENA agency, on Wednesday.

He said Turkish interventions are "targeting and impinging on Arab national security" and affirmed that the pan-Arab body rejects any regional interference that "threatens the security, safety and stability of the Arab countries."

On 23 June, the Arab League held an extraordinary session via video conference to discuss developments in Libya, and issued a 14-article resolution in which the league emphasised “the need for restoring the Libyan state and the role of its institutions in serving the Libyan people, away from foreign interventions.”

The resolution also referred to the “central role of Libya’s neighbouring countries in ending the Libyan crisis,” and urged combating “foreign interventions—regardless of their source and nature—that facilitate the transfer of terrorist, foreign fighters into Libya” and rejected the violation of international decisions on an arms embargo.

Aboul-Gheit stressed the importance of an Egyptian initiative for Libya, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, saying it lays out a comprehensive roadmap for settling the Libyan crisis and provides executive steps and mechanisms to deal with the military, security, political and economic aspects of the crisis in the conflict-torn country.

The oil-rich country has been divided between rival administrations in the east and west since 2014, and the fissure is growing due to political stalemate and the failure of international diplomatic initiatives to reach a truce.

The Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli, is backed by Turkish troops and Qatar in its war against the eastern-based LNA and its leader Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, the UAE and Russia.

The Egyptian initiative was announced on 6 June by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Haftar, and Libya's parliament speaker Aguila Saleh. It involves a ceasefire, an elected leadership council and a longer-term peace plan.

The Egyptian initiative is based on the Libyan political consensus, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the outcomes of the Berlin conference, which resulted in a comprehensive political proposal that includes clear implementation steps in the political, economic and security fields and positive engagement from all Libyan parties with these initiatives.

The initiative “encourages the Libyan parties to stop fighting and engage in the required political process," Aboul-Gheit told MENA, saying the Arab League “fully supports" the proposed plan, which has been welcomed by Arab, regional and Western powers.

Earlier this week, Libya's eastern-based parliament, which backs Haftar, passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish "occupation."

Last month, El-Sisi said his country has a legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered the armed forces to be prepared to carry out any mission outside the country if necessary.

He said any intervention by Egypt would mainly be aimed at protecting Egypt’s western border, achieving a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya, stressing that crossing the Sirte-Jufra frontline is a “red line” for Egypt.

Forces allied with Haftar have recently pulled back east towards Sirte and Jufra airbase in central Libya after forces loyal to the rival government in the west extended control across most of northwest Libya and advanced further south.

Regional and international interventions in Libya

On the Arab League’s stance on the regional and international interventions in Libya, Aboul-Gheit emphasised that the league position has always been “clear and consistent,” rejecting all forms of foreign interference in the Libyan crisis.

“Libya is an important Arab country and an active member of the Arab League. The league cannot accept turning Libya into a scene for foreign military interventions or an outlet for achieving external agendas or regional ambitions," the secretary-general said.

Aboul Gheit had told a League emergency ministerial meeting, held last month at the request of Egypt, that the situation in Libya has become "extremely dangerous.”

He attributed this to the mounting “internationalization” of the Libyan conflict,” the increase in “foreign military interventions in the conflict,” the “recurrent violations of the arms embargo” and the “systematic recruitment of mercenaries and foreign fighters.”

Calling for an end to the clashes, especially around the Libyan city of Sirte, Aboul-Gheit said a truce will only be achieved if there are clear rules and commitment to the exit of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya and the dismantling and demobilising of armed groups.

"No one wants to repeat the Syrian scenario in Libya, and certainly there is an absolute Arab commitment to preserve the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Libyan state and its national unity," Aboul-Gheit said.

 

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