FILE PHOTO Troops of the Government of National Accord (GNA) REUTERS
The defence minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Monday that the Tripoli-based government will maintain military and security relations with Turkey despite a ceasefire deal that was announced this week during talks in Geneva.
On Twitter, Salaheddin Al-Namroush emphasized that the GNA will “enhance cooperation with Turkey as an ally and continue training programs that were received and will continue to be received by those enrolled in the GNA defence ministry’s training institutes."
“Attention must be given to security and military agreements in the meantime more than ever before, especially if the ceasefire is abided by and peace is established in Libya. Building a Libyan army on reliable foundations and a unifying, national doctrine that is based on youth is one of the most important gains of achieving peace in Libya,” he tweeted.
Al-Namroush claimed that the ceasefire agreement signed during the Joint Military Commission talks held last week in Geneva does not include cancelling the 2019 military cooperation agreement between the GNA and Turkey.
Last Friday in Geneva, parties to the Libyan conflict accepted a complete and permanent ceasefire. The agreement stipulates a return to camps by all armies and armed groups. They also agreed that foreign fighters and mercenaries must leave the North African state by 23 January.
The UN-sponsored deal, moreover, states that military agreements with foreign governments must be stopped until a new government is established.
Other measures that were agreed upon include the creation of a joint military committee and police operations room, opening land and air routes, ending hate speech, swapping detainees and rebuilding forces that will protect oil sites.
The Geneva meetings represented a new round of UN-backed peace negotiations for Libya after those held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Hurghada and Morocco’s coastal town of Bouznika, south of the capital Rabat in September.
In Morocco, parties to the Libyan conflict agreed on the "criteria, transparent mechanisms, and objectives" for key power positions. Negotiations in Hurghada saw an agreement between the Libyan parties to work on the release of all prisoners, protect the North African state’s oil and gas facilities and completely resume production and export activities.
Talks in Geneva will be followed with meetings by the so-called Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) in Tunisia in early November, which seeks to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework, and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections in the shortest possible timeframe in order to restore Libya’s sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions.”
The meetings will be both virtual— beginning on 26 October—and face-to-face amid the “ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and online in order to protect the health of the participants.”
Libya has been divided between two authorities in Tripoli and Tobruk for six years. While the GNA is based in Tripoli, the capital, Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and is allied to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.
The LNA is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, and Russia; while the GNA is backed by Turkey, Qatar, and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
On 22 August, both parties to the conflict declared a ceasefire that ended fears about possible GNA aggression against the port city of Sirte, 370 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli and Jufra, which has a major military airbase.
GNA head Al-Sarraj announced on Facebook that he "issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and combat operations in all Libyan territories." Speaker of the Libyan parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh also announced a ceasefire that was welcomed by world leaders.
The two warring parties agreed to hold elections in March 2021.