Turkey’s presence in Libya a legitimate right of self-defence against aggression by the eastern Libya-based forces, the president of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, said yesterday.
“The relationship between Libya and Turkey dates back to previous eras at historical, social, economic, political, security and military levels,” Al-Sarraj told reports on the sidelines of the 43rd meeting of the UN Human Rights Council held in the Swiss capital of Geneva.
Al-Sarraj pointed out that his government had previously sought help many countries, including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Turkey, against the offensive that was launched in April by the eastern Libya forces, led by the retired general Khalifa Haftar. He added that Turkey was the only government to respond to the GNA’s request.
“This is a legitimate right for the GNA and a duty towards our people to defend them against this aggression,” Al-Sarraj stressed, referring to Haftar forces’ military operation on Tripoli.
On the Turkey-Libya military agreement, Al-Sarraj noted that the memorandum of understanding included cooperation on training, anti-terrorism and illegal migration.
GNA and Ankara signed two separate agreements 0n 27 November, one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Since the ouster of late leader Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in the capital Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
GNA has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, and more than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence.