Turkey eyes establishment of two military bases in Libya, sees Aguila Saleh Issa as a viable negotiations partner

Turkey is in talks with its ally, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), to establish two military bases in Libya, reports say.

An official Turkish source told Reuters that Ankara is mulling plans to take control of the Misrata naval base and of Al Watiya air base located south on the outskirt of capital Tripoli.
Both bases are now in the hands of GNA-affiliated forces.

Al Watiya air base, controlled since 2014 by rebel forces led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, fell under the control of the GNA forces late last month with the support of Turkish military backing.

Actually, Turkey has deployed troops, mercenaries, military officers as well as drones following the maritime and security agreements signed with the GNA in November, despite a UN weapons embargo on Libya.

Ankara also last week said it would set up two power plants in Libya and will start drilling in Libyan waters in a three-month period in connection with the November agreements.

Early this month, GNA leader Faiez Serraj met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss cooperation between the two countries in oil and gas drilling. Serraj, on the occasion, invited Turkish firms to return to Libya to participate in the country’s reconstruction.

In another development, Turkish special presidential envoy to Libya, Emrullah Isler, said in an exclusive interview with Middle East Eye that Turkey sees head of Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament Aguila Saleh Issa as a viable negotiations partner and wants him to represent the eastern bloc instead of Khalifa Haftar.

“Haftar is a failed dictator and we have never recognized him as a legitimate stakeholder. He is also about to lose the Russian support. He won’t take a place in the future of Libya,” said Emrullah Isler.

“Political negotiations should be conducted by politicians. Aguila Saleh Issa, as a politician, specifically must contribute to this process,” the Turkish presidential envoy said, noting that the Tobruk parliament was a legitimate branch of the Libyan state under the UN-recognized political deal signed in 2015 in Skhirate.

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