TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Senior Turkish officials visited Tripoli on Wednesday to meet Libya’s internationally recognised government after helping it stave off an offensive by eastern-based forces.
Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj is seen with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak during their meeting in Tripoli, Libya June 17, 2020. Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish support has been critical to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in turning back a 14-month campaign by the Libyan National Army (LNA), backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, to capture Tripoli.
The visit, not previously announced, included Turkey’s foreign and finance ministers, the intelligence chief and the national security adviser, the GNA said in a statement. They met the GNA’s prime minister, interior minister and oil company head.
Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi and has been split since 2014 between rival administrations in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.
Ankara’s intervention led to a sudden shift in front lines this month as pro-GNA forces pushed back the LNA and its allies from most of northwest Libya towards the central coastal city of Sirte.
The GNA and LNA have returned to ceasefire talks, but the United Nations, which is brokering their discussions, has warned of a possible major escalation due to the flow of weapons and fighters into Libya despite an arms embargo.
The LNA still controls eastern Libya and much of the south, where some of the main oil fields, the source of most external revenue, are located.
However, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Central Bank, the only bodies allowed to sell Libyan oil according to international agreements, are located in Tripoli under the GNA.
Oil exports have been frozen for most of this year after eastern-based forces blockaded the ports, including the main ones near Sirte.
Last week NOC briefly restarted production at two of the main oil fields, but was forced to close them again after a few hours.
Reporting By Tripoli newsroom; additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood