Turkey backs Libya ceasefire but doubtful after Haftar's rebuff

Reuters , Wednesday 2 Sep 2020

Turkey would "love it" if a ceasefire declared in Libya last month is successful but there are many doubts after eastern-based forces under Khalifa Haftar dismissed the move, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Wednesday.

Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) declared the ceasefire last month and called for a lifting of a seven-month blockade on oil facilities. The leader of a rival parliament to the east, Aguila Saleh, also appealed for a halt to hostilities.

Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) dismissed the ceasefire as a marketing stunt, saying rival forces were mobilising around front lines in Sirte and Jufra, strategic areas for both sides.

Turkey has provided military support to Fayez al-Serraj's GNA, helping reverse the LNA's 14-month assault on Tripoli in June. Haftar's LNA is supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Eastern parlianmentary leader Saleh is seen to have gained clout relative to Haftar since the LNA's retreat from Tripoli.

"We see there are points by Serraj and Saleh that are good points, like lifting the (oil) embargo, but there are some issues with the statements as well," Oktay told an online panel, referring to differing calls for demilitarised zones in Sirte and Jufra.

"Saleh has tried to somehow reach an agreement and Haftar has already rejected it. If it goes through, we would love it, but unfortunately there are many doubts. Unfortunately, there are huge military accumulations by countries supporting Haftar."

Both sides and their foreign patrons have been mobilising around the central city of Sirte, though there has been little fighting in recent weeks. The sides have also accused each other of quickly violating truces and using them to rearm.

Last week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey wanted talks between the warring parties to resume. "We support the ceasefire and the disarmament of the Sirte-Jufra line on the condition that Libya is not divided," he said.

The United Nations has been coordinating international efforts for military, political and economic deals in Libya following a summit in January in Berlin. Ankara and Moscow have also been holding talks on a ceasefire, with Turkish officials going to Moscow for discussions on Monday.

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