In tandem with Turkey, Qatar puts boots on the ground in Libya |
TRIPOLI – In the wake of talks held in Tripoli with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiya, the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, announced Tuesday that both Qatar and Turkey will be sending “military advisers” to Libya to back forces loyal to the GNA.
The announcement was made by the GNA’s Deputy Defence Minister Salahedin al-Namroush. “We have agreed with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiya to establish a trilateral cooperation towards building the military institution through training and advice,” he said.
He added that cooperation will include “the sending of military advisers” and the training of Libyans in Turkish and Qatari military academies. Turkish and Qatari ministers have had meetings Monday with Sarraj, where they were said to have discussed “developments in Libya and military buildup east of Sirte and the Jufra region.”
This is the first time in years that Qatar goes public about military involvement in Libya. Doha has been wary of being perceived as lending support to Islamist radicals in Libya ever since its participation in the NATO-led campaign which led to the toppling of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
The GNA government is dominated by Islamists and is militarily backed by militants and a vast array of armed militias.
Turkey has been openly involved in ensuring military support to the GNA through the delivery of arms and military systems as well as the dispatching of military personnel and mercenaries to Libya to help forces fighting on Sarraj’s side.
Turkey signed a military deal with the GNA last November, as well as a memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries that sparked huge tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Akar and Turkish Chief of Staff General Yasar Guler were in Tripoli on Monday to “observe the operations” under the military cooperation deal with Libya, Turkey’s defence ministry said.
The synchronised Turkish-Qatari move is likely to fuel the concerns of Libya’s neighbours as an unwelcome step towards escalation of foreign military intervention in the oil-rich North African country.
Source: Arab Weekly