Turkish Armed Forces

The Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, called on the parties of the naval Operation IRINI to reconsider their support of “the putschist general Khalifa Haftar”, and that “the successes of the Government of National Accord (GNA)” could not have been achieved without the services provided by the Turkish forces in Libya.

(Libya, 17 May 2020) – According to the official Anadolu news agency on Friday, the Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar questioned the legality of Operation IRINI in terms of international law and how far did the EU cooperate with the United Nations in this regard. Akar ignored the legitimacy of the Presidential Council with which Turkey had signed the illegal agreements last November.

In this regard, he asked: “Did those who launched Operation IRINI coordinate with NATO and other countries in the region? I believe not. Some of these countries did not want to be a party to this issue.”

On 31 March the EU launched Operation IRINI (meaning “peace” in Greek) in the Mediterranean to enforce arms embargo imposed on Libya.

Akar claimed that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that if there is a peaceful or political solution in Libya, the UN-recognized government of the GNA should take over this matter. However, the Turkish minister ignored the fact that NATO later responded and stressed that Stoltenberg’s statements were taken out of conntext.

Akar appreciated Stoltenberg’s allegations of the willingness of NATO to support the GNA in interview that NATO backtracked later, calling on the parties of Operation IRINI to revisit these issues.

The Turkish Minister of Defense said: “They only prevent maritime entry and exit. This is not an arms embargo, but rather an embargo on the activities of the legitimate government, which has not asked for that (launching Operation IRINI).”

He went on to say, “There is no legal basis for this Operation without an official request from the (Libyan) government. Therefore, this only supports Haftar.”

Admitting the presence of Turkish military forces on Libyan soil after reports of that they had assumed command of the entire operations, Akar said, “The Turkish armed forces will continue to perform their duties in Libya to support legitimacy,” stressing that they are in Libya upon the invitation of the UN-recognized government.

While Akar claimed that Turkey’s role is limited to military training and advisory services, he did not clarify whether the Syrian mercenaries and the remnants of Al-Nusra Front are among these the so-called trainers and advisers.

Akar reminded his allies in Tripoli that “Only after Turkey launched its advisory and training services and started to cooperate did the Libyans (GNA) achieve the current successes in the field.”

© Al Marsad English (2020)