Turkey’s role in Libya increasing - analysis

Turkey’s role in Libya appears to be increasing as fighting between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) continues nearly six months after he launched a major offensive, said an analysis in The Arab Weekly. 

Western diplomats confirmed that Turkish officers are now overseeing GNA military operations, which is why its movements have become more coordinated of late, Libya Herald editor-in-chief Michel Cousins wrote on Sunday in the Arab Weekly. 

An LNA attack last week on the Gardabiya Airbase, south of Sirte, was meant to destroy Turkish drone facilities, an LNA officer told Cousins. It was part of a dramatic rise in LNA air attacks, including several strikes on Tripoli’s closed Mitiga airport as well as other locations in the city and on Misrata’s airport, according to Cousins. 

GNA forces had recently pushed the LNA onto the defensive and were nearing Tarhouna, the LNA’s front line operations base. The stepped up LNA air strikes were meant to divert the GNA from Tarhouna, and appeared to have some success, said Cousins. 

Last week, representatives from the Arab League, the EU, Egypt, France, Italy, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and the UN attended a preparatory meeting for next month's Libya conference in Berlin, spurring France and Italy to coordinate their Libya policies the next day. 

LNA officials have been hoping the United States would provide its support, but U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland met with Haftar last week in Abu Dhabi and reportedly urged him to return to the dialogue table, said Cousins. 

On Sunday, the United States, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, the UAE and Turkey issued a joint statement supporting Libyan state oil firm NOC as the country’s sole authority for its energy sector, following Haftar’s creation of a parallel board, Reuters reported.