Haftar says Turkey’s Libya interference is colonial project

Rebel Libyan General Khalifa Haftar accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of leading a colonial project in Libya, Middle East Monitor reported on Tuesday.

“We do not accept a backward Turk to rule us again, we do not like to see a Turk walking on his feet in front of our heroes,” Middle East Monitor reported Haftar as saying in a Facebook post.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army has suffered a series of major battlefield losses in recent months to the Turkish-backed, United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar said that his forces included a large number of Salafist fighters, whom he described as patriots, and he urged them to resist what he described as a new Turkish invasion of Libya and not show mercy with those he described as the aggressors “because they do not deserve mercy”.

Middle East Monitor reported that Haftar said in a speech on Saturday that Ottoman Turks had controlled Libya for 300 years, and inflicted killing and looting, and said that Libyans will not accept colonialism again.

The GNA recently recaptured most of the territory held by the LNA in northwest Libya, ending Haftar’s 14-month campaign to take Libya’s capital city of Tripoli.

The GNA says it now intends to take the city of Sirte, a gateway to Libya’s main oil terminals, from the LNA. Egypt - which backs Haftar - has threatened to send troops into Libya if the GNA tries to seize the city.

Turkey has said that the GNA will only agree to a ceasefire to end the conflict in Libya if forces allied to Haftar withdraw from key central and western regions.