United Arab Emirates denounces Turkey's unacceptable behaviour in Libya

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Arab country criticized the perverse use of Islam by Turkey and its allies in Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood in favour of a belligerent and expansionist policy
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash

REUTERS/NEIL HALL  -   The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash

Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), urged the international community to curb Turkey's unacceptable activity in the Libyan civil war, where it is participating in line with the National Accord Government (GNA), which is based in the capital city of Tripoli and led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, in the race against the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar and associated with the other eastern Executive in the city of Tobruk. 

Anwar Gargash strongly opposed the use by Turkey of the self-serving interpretation of Islam, in collaboration with its partners in Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, to destabilise the Arab world and to increase its power in the sphere of the Middle East and North Africa in order to favour greater Ottoman expansionism aimed at strengthening its geostrategic position and obtaining economic benefits from the region's rich natural resources. Proof of this manoeuvre is the pact signed by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with Fayez Sarraj at the end of last year, which defined the military support to the GNA and the distribution of economic zones of interest in the Mediterranean arc. 

In an opinion article published in the French media Le Point, Gargash accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan of choosing Turkey's former imperial position as a competitor and adversary for both Europe and the Arab world. "Erdogan has made it clear that he does not wish to be a bridge between Europe and the Arab world," Gargash wrote.

The Emirati minister's published comment came shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron accused the Eurasian nation of massively bringing jihadists into Libya, calling Ankara's intervention "criminal. Much has already been published by various media about the Turkish use of paid mercenaries attached to groups linked to terrorist associations such as Daesh or Al-Qaeda, both in the conflicts in Syria and Libya. 

Tensions between Ankara and Paris were further heightened last week when France denounced an "extremely aggressive" intervention by Turkish ships against a French Navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean.

Gargash said the incident was a moment of arrogance that broke not only formal and informal protocols between NATO allies, but made it difficult to deny the seriousness of what Turkey is doing in Libya or its expansionist strategy. 

Libya continues to suffer from a bloody civil war since 2014 that pits the GNA and the LNA against each other in a confrontation that has become a stage for power games between foreign powers present on the ground and with their own interests. Thus, on the one hand, the government of Tripoli, internationally recognized by the United Nations (UN) since 2016, receives the aforementioned support from Turkey, Qatar and Italy; while, on the other hand, the LNA of Khalifa Haftar is supported by Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The North African country is rich in oil and is divided between rival administrations in the east and west, in a conflict that has attracted foreign powers because of its position and attractive natural resources. 

Anwar Gargash emphasized Turkey's use of a perverse interpretation of Islam in collaboration with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood to sow chaos in the Arab world and carry out its "neo-Ottoman" expansionism. 

"In recent months alone, Erdogan has used refugees in Syria and Libya to put pressure on Europe; he has collaborated with Iran to bomb pro-Western Kurds in Iraq and has actively tried to exploit instability in Africa for his own benefit," the UAE foreign minister said.  "With regard to Libya, the international community must send a clear and unequivocal message to Turkey that its behaviour is unacceptable," he said. 

The Emirati minister called for the implementation of the plan presented by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, "which includes talks in Geneva, the election of a leadership council, the disbanding of militias and the departure of all foreign fighters from Libya. But al-Sisi's plan was rejected outright by the GNA, supported by Qatar and Turkey, which made further military advances against Khalifa Haftar's forces. "Without a political solution built on solid foundations and supported by the Libyan people, and without a withdrawal of all foreign forces, this conflict will continue until the structure of society is destroyed," Gargash explained.

"UAE is confident that the vast majority of Libyans want to end this war. We do not believe that the Libyan people have supported the attempts of al-Qaeda and Daesh to take over large parts of Libya," Gargash said, adding that "UAE's main interest in Libya is to ensure that the external powers cannot use the country as a lever to destabilize the Arab world.