Paris calls on Haftar to “abstain” from any military action

France has asked Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of eastern Libya, to “refrain from any resumption of hostilities” and to “focus” on the search for a political solution.

“There is no military solution in Libya. The priority is to implement the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020, which provides for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries, and to continue the political process under the authority of the United Nations,” said a deputy spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, AFP reported.

“We call on all Libyan parties to support this process, to refrain from any resumption of hostilities and to focus on the appointment of a new executive and the organization of the elections scheduled for 24 December 2021, as decided by the Libyan Political Forum, under the auspices of the United Nations,” the spokesman added.

France, which has been heavily involved in the search for a political solution in Libya in recent years, is regularly listed among the supporters of Marshal Haftar.

The call comes after Haftar and Turkey traded warnings over the past weekend threatening to sap the UN-led peace efforts to end the infighting and political divisions in the oil-rich country.

The recent threats endanger a fragile truce signed in October by Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) as well as UN efforts to help parties to the Libyan conflict reach a political solution.

The inter-Libyan talks reached an agreement to hold national elections in December 2021.

Last week, Haftar called for launching an offensive on Turkish forces stationed in Libya, asking his forces to take up arms again in order to “expel the occupant” of Turkey at a time when talks are being held to get out of the current crisis of stagnation in which they find themselves.

“We must remember today that there will be no peace in the presence of a settler in our land”, said Marshal Khalifa Haftar in reference to Ankara, whose parliament passed a motion extending for 18 months the authorization to deploy troops in Libya.

“Therefore, we will again take up arms to shape our peace with our own hands (…) and, since Turkey rejects peace and opts for war, prepare to expel the occupant by faith, will and arms”, he said in a speech on the 69th anniversary of the country’s independence.

“Officers and soldiers, get ready! ” he hammered in front of hundreds of soldiers in Benghazi (East).

The remarks prompted Turkey, which has kept troops in Libya since January, to dispatch its defense minister Hulusi Akar to the North African country.

During his visit, Hulusi Akar said Turkey’s forces in Libya will retaliate against any attack by rebel general Khalifa Haftar.

“A war criminal and murderer, Haftar and his supporters must know that they will be seen as a legitimate target in case of any attack on Turkish forces” by his troops, Hulusi Akar said in an address to Turkish units in Tripoli last Saturday and made available to the media on Sunday.

“If they (Haftar’s forces) take such a step, they will be unable to find any place to flee to,” Akar said in his strong-worded statement.

Turkey is the main foreign backer of Libya’s internationally recognized GNA based in Tripoli, which for years has been fighting Haftar’s LNA. The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

 

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