Panafrican News Agency

Libya media highlight jockeying for influence between France and Turkey in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The effects of the struggle for influence between France and Turkey in Libya, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, which has fuelled tension between Paris and Ankara, were highlighted by Libyan newspapers this week.

The media also played up attempts by the United States to promote their vision of a solution to the Libyan crisis among the belligerents and the countries of the region involved in the Libyan issue.

The Libyan media further focused on the arrangements which Russia and Turkey, the two new influential actors in Libya, are trying to achieve through meetings and the establishment of a consultation mechanism on the settlement of the crisis.

Under the headline, "Conflict of influence in Libya leads to tension between Paris and Ankara in the eastern Mediterranean," Al-Wassat newspaper wrote that the rise of the crisis in diplomatic relations between Paris and Ankara is explained by complications of the Libyan dispute after France stepped up its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean to support Greece, and in response, Ankara accused it of escalating tensions.

Turkey's growing influence in the Middle East has led to tensions with France, as the two countries in particular fight over the issue of Libya, which is divided between the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord and authorities in eastern Libya, according to the newspaper.

The Libyan weekly published in Cairo, Egypt, said that French President Emmanuel Macron recently denounced Ankara's "criminal responsibility" in the Libyan conflict for its military intervention, accusing it of violating the arms embargo on Libya, as well as sending Syrian jihadists to fight forces of the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.

In June, the newspaper recalls, tension peaked when France criticised the Turkish navy for threatening one of its warships during a mission to enforce compliance with the arms embargo on Libya, and called on NATO to investigate the incident.              

Al-Wassat reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused France of acting "like a leader" in the eastern Mediterranean after strengthening the French military presence in the region by deploying two "Rafale" fighters on the island of Crete and two warships to support Greece against Turkey.

In this contested region, rich in hydrocarbons, Ankara and Athens, tensions intensified on Monday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the dispatch of a seismic research vessel escorted by military ships, the newspaper said.

According to the newspaper, Paris did not condemn the violations by Haftar of the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations, nor by the United Arab Emirates, the distinguished partner of France.

It added that the result is clear that France, which denies any support even indirectly, is now accused of double dealing in Libya, which weakens its international position, especially with its diplomatic campaign against Turkey.

Looking at Russia's efforts, the Afrigatenews newspaper reported that the next round of Russian-Turkish ministerial consultations on Libya scheduled for Moscow in August-September.

Quoting Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the newspaper said the Russian and Turkish sides reached an agreement in principle on the date of the next round of consultations at a meeting of their representatives held in Ankara on 21-22 July

The Arabic-language electronic newspaper added that during the July meeting, Russia and Turkey agreed to "consider establishing a joint working group on Libya".

They also decided to continue their efforts to achieve a long-term and continuous ceasefire in Libya, as well as to strengthen the Libyan political dialogue in accordance with the decisions of the Berlin Conference, which was held on 19 January in conjunction with the United Nations. They also called on the parties to take action to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need.

The newspaper recalled that the UN Security Council voted on 12 February by majority to approve the adoption of draft resolution No. 2510 submitted by the UK on ceasefire in Libya, and welcomed the results of the Berlin Conference.

Returning to the position of the US, Al-Wassat newspaper pointed out that Washington has recently again shown interest in the Libyan question, focusing on finding what its ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, called "a demilitarized solution to Sirte and Al-Jafra," which is meant to get a political or peaceful solution.

But the newspaper countered that this is not without movements linked to a mutual military surge, as Moscow criticised NATO's role in Libya, seeing it as one of the reasons for the violation of the territorial integrity of Libya since its intervention in 2011.

The American solution also allows the Libyan National Oil Company to resume its vital work while ensuring that oil and gas revenues are managed in a transparent manner, and governance improved, leading to reliable and peaceful elections.

-0- PANA BY/IS/KND/MA 15Aug2020