Turkey, UAE clash over Libya conflict, trade accusations of interference
A war of words has escalated between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over Libya, where the two states support opposing sides in the African country’s long-running conflict.
According to reports, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, has slammed Turkish defense minister for his recent comments about Abu Dhabi’s role in Libya, urging Ankara to sop meddling in the affairs of Arab states.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi had earlier censured “malicious” actions by the UAE in Libya, where Abu Dhabi — along with Egypt and others – has been supporting rebel forces led by renegade Khalifah Haftar in an offensive to seize power from the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli.
“Abu Dhabi does what it does in Libya, does what it does in Syria. All of it is being recorded. At the right place and time, the accounts will be settled,” Akar said in an interview with Qatar's Al Jazeera Arabic broadcaster.
“It is necessary to ask Abu Dhabi, where this hostility, where these intentions, where this jealousy comes from,” he added.
With crucial help from Turkey, the Tripoli government has gained the upper hand in the counter-offensive against the Hafter-led rebels after it reversed many of their gains both around the capital and elsewhere in the country.
The Turkish military has been providing air cover, weapons, and proxy militias from other countries to help the Libyan government.
The acting United Nations (UN) special envoy for Libya said on Saturday that the Libyan people are concerned that external actors could strip them of the right to decide their own future.
“The Libyan people are exhausted and scared in equal measure,” Stephanie Williams said on a visit to London. “They are tired of war, and want peace, but they fear this is not in their hands now. They want a solution and a ceasefire. The alternative to a ceasefire and an inclusive political solution is essentially the destruction of their country.”
The UN envoy went on to say, “With so many external actors with their own agendas, the risk of miscalculation and a regional confrontation is high.”
Williams emphasized that the conflict unfolding in Libya was to the detriment of civilians and said, “This is as much a battle between external rivals, as a civil war now, in which the Libyans are losing their sovereignty.”
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned last month that foreign interference in the conflict in Libya had reached “unprecedented” levels.