LONDON - UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash, called on the international community to send a clear and unequivocal message to Turkey that its behaviour in war-ton Libya was unacceptable.
In an opinion article published today in LePoint, Gargash accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of choosing to model Turkey’s past imperial position as a competitor and adversary to both Europe and the Arab world.
“Erdogan has made it clear that he has no desire to be a bridge between Europe and the Arab World,” wrote Gargash.
The outspoken Emirati minister’s comment came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of massively importing jihadists into Libya, labelling Ankara's intervention "criminal".
The Ankara-Paris strains soared further last week when France denounced an "extremely aggressive" intervention by Turkish ships against a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean.
Gargash said the incident was a moment of hubris that broke not only formal and informal protocols between NATO allies, but made it difficult to deny the severity of what Turkey is doing in Libya, or its broader intentions.
Ankara supports the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) with mercenaries, weapons and drones in the conflict against military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Libya has been torn by violence, drawing in tribal militias, jihadists and mercenaries since the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Gathafi in a Western-backed uprising.
The oil-rich country is split between rival administrations in the east and west, with the conflict recently attracting increasing foreign involvement.
Gargash also lashed out at Turkey’s use of a perverted interpretation of Islam in collaboration with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood to sow chaos in the Arab world and carry out its “Neo-Ottoman” expansionism.
“In the last months alone, Erdogan has used refugees in Syria and Libya to exert pressure on Europe; he has collaborated with Iran to bomb pro-Western Kurds in Iraq and actively sought to exploit instability in the Horn of Africa to its own advantage,” said Gargash.
“With respect to Libya, the international community must send a clear and unequivocal message to Turkey that its behaviour is unacceptable,” he said.
The UAE minister called for the implementation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi’s plan “that includes talks in Geneva, the election of a leadership council, the disbanding of militias and the exit of all foreign fighters from Libya.”
But Sisi’s plan was quickly rejected by the Turkish-backed GNA, which attempted new advances against Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya.
Gargash warned the current standoff over the coastal city of Sirte puts more than 60,000 people at risk.
“Without a political solution built on solid foundation and supported by the Libyan people, and without a withdrawal of all foreign forces, this conflict will continue until the fabric of society is destroyed,” he said.
“The UAE is confident that the great majority of Libyans want an end to this war. We do not believe the Libyan people supported Al Qaeda and Da’esh attempts to take over large parts Libya,” he stressed.
“The UAE’s primary interest in Libya is to make sure outside powers cannot use the country as a lever to destabilize the Arab World,” he added.
Gargash concluded that with a functional government and wise stewardship of its resources, Libya has the potential to be a cornerstone of regional economic growth and cohesion.