Libyan leader visits Turkey as Erdoğan seeks to maintain sway over Tripoli

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is hosting Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in Ankara on Monday as his government seeks to maintain its military and economic sway over the country.

Erdoğan and Dbeibah are co-chairing the first meeting of the Turkey-Libya High Level Strategic Cooperation Council, where views on bilateral relations and regional and international developments were to be exchanged, the Turkish presidency announced.

Turkey has been the main backer of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, which has fought against Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The Government of National Unity of Libya (GNU) which has replaced the GNA, will run the war-torn Northern African country until elections are held in December.

During Dbeibah’s two-day visit, all aspects of bilateral relations and further steps to improve cooperation will be discussed, Erdoğan’s office said. Dbeibeh is being accompanied by 14 ministers and five deputy prime ministers, Reuters reported, citing Turkish media.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy made a visit to Tripoli late last month to enhance ties with the North African country. France, which has vehemently opposed Turkey’s military presence in the country and a maritime accord between the two governments that seeks to divide up large swathes of the eastern Mediterranean, was due to re-open its embassy in Tripoli early this month.

According to the Middle East Eye, Dbeibah made a private visit to Ankara in mid-February, meeting with Erdoğan after his election by Libyan representatives at U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 5.

Dbeibah, a businessman from Misrata, is a billionaire who granted contracts to Turkish companies through state-owned agencies before former Libyan leader Gaddafi was overthrown, the Middle East Eye said.