More than 2,300 GNA soldiers complete training in Turkey

In the face of further fighting in Libya's civil war
Libyan military graduates loyal to the National Accord Government (GNA) participate in a parade marking their graduation, the result of a military training agreement with Turkey, at the Omar Mukhtar camp in the city of Tajoura, southeast of the capital Tripoli, on 21 November 2020

AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA  -   Libyan military graduates loyal to the National Accord Government (GNA) participate in a parade marking their graduation, the result of a military training agreement with Turkey, at the Omar Mukhtar camp in the city of Tajoura, southeast of the capital Tripoli, on 21 November 2020

The spokesperson for the Turkish Defence Ministry, Pinar Kara, said that more than 2,300 soldiers aligned with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) have completed their training in Turkey, with a view to fighting in the civil war that has been raging in Libya since 2014.  

Pinar Kara added that about 264 GNA soldiers are still being trained by the Turkish military, according to the Libya Review. The Defence Ministry spokesperson claimed in a press conference that Turkey intervened in Libya to support the GNA in accordance with international law. She stressed that the bilateral agreements signed between the two countries are legal.

These pacts date back to the end of 2019, when Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed with Fayez Sarraj to provide Turkish military support to the GNA in the conflict that confronts it with Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), with military advice and even the sending of mercenaries from Syria attached to groups linked in the past to terrorist organisations such as Daesh or al-Qaeda. As part of this understanding, Sultan Erdogan and Sarraj also sealed a pact for the sharing of exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean for the exploitation of hydrocarbons; this was denounced by countries such as Greece and Cyprus and by the European Union for violating their own maritime borders.  

El presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, se reúne con el primer ministro de Libia, Fayez Sarraj, en Estambul (Turquía), el 4 de octubre de 2020
REUTERS/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 4, 2020

Kara noted that the Turkish military fully supports the GNA through training in the fields of mine clearance, healthcare, humanitarian assistance, and advisory support.

Last week, the GNA’s Defence Ministry announced that the first group of special military forces trained by Turkey had completed their training. A graduation ceremony was held in the Omar Al-Mukhtar training centre, near Tripoli. The graduates completed eight weeks of training “in order to raise the Libyan army to international standards”, the GNA’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.
 

Militares libios graduados leales al Gobierno del Acuerdo Nacional (GNA) realizan maniobras durante un desfile que marca su graduación
AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA - Libyan military graduates loyal to the National Accord Government (GNA) perform maneuvers during a parade marking their graduation

Turkey is thus continuing to interfere in the North African country's conflict through military intervention and is pursuing expansionism in the eastern Mediterranean in order to strengthen its geostrategic position and exploit the area's oil and gas resources. Meanwhile, Libya continues to be a field of vested interests in which different countries participate with their own objectives in mind. Thus, the GNA receives the aforementioned military support from Turkey and financial support from Qatar. Meanwhile, Haftar's LNA is supported by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt ( all three diplomatic rivals of Qatar, which they embargoed in 2017 after being accused of supporting cross-border terrorism), Russia and France.