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AFP
January 15, 2020

Turkey threatens to ‘teach lesson’ to Haftar

World

AFP
January 15, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would “teach a lesson” to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar if he resumed fighting after abandoning ceasefire talks in Moscow.

Haftar left Moscow on Tuesday without signing a peace deal aimed at ending nine months of fighting with the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

“We will not hesitate to teach a deserved lesson to the putschist Haftar if he continues his attacks on the country’s legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya,” Erdogan told a meeting of his party in Ankara in a televised speech.

Erdogan said the issue would now be discussed at talks in Berlin on Sunday attended by European, North African and Middle Eastern countries, as well as the UN, EU, Africa Union and Arab League.

“The putschist Haftar did not sign the ceasefire. He first said yes, but later unfortunately he left Moscow, he fled Moscow,” Erdogan said.

“Despite this, we find the talks in Moscow were positive as they showed the true face of the putschist Haftar to the international community.” Haftar and his allies were in Moscow on Monday for talks with the UN-recognised government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj that is based in Tripoli. Sarraj’s government has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to Haftar, who is based in the east of the oil-rich North African country with his own loyalist politicians.

The two sides had agreed to the ceasefire that took effect at the weekend and were in Moscow to sign a long-term agreement.

The talks raised hopes of an end to the latest fighting to wrack Libya since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Moamer Qadhafi.

But after seven hours of negotiations, only Sarraj had signed on to the agreement and Russian officials confirmed to AFP that Haftar’s delegation had left without inking the deal. “We will pursue our efforts in this direction. For now, a definitive result has not been achieved,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Sri Lanka.

Russia, European powers and Libya’s neighbours “are working in the same vein and motivating all Libyan sides to agree rather than continue sorting things out by force”, Lavrov said.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted a source in Haftar’s stronghold Benghazi as saying he did not sign because the agreement did not spell out a timeline for disbanding groups allied with Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Erdogan reacted angrily, saying in a televised Ankara speech: “We will not hesitate to teach a deserved lesson to the putschist Haftar if he continues his attacks on the country’s legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya”. Erdogan said the issue would now be discussed at talks in Berlin on Sunday to be attended by European, North African and Middle Eastern countries as well as the UN, EU, Africa Union and Arab League.