İSTANBUL(TURKISH JOURNAL) – On Saturday, after French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his call for foreign powers to withdraw their mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya – Turkey made it clear that it will not be included in that group.
Initially, Turkey was invited by the first UN-recognized government in Tripoli to bring in its military for what Turkish officials maintain was training and consulting. Turkey sent its own troops and militia units from Syria to Libya a year ago for this purpose and ended up assisting the previous UN-backed Tripoli government in thwarting an attempt by strongman, eastern-based Khalifa Haftar to capture Tripoli.
Macron speaking at Friday’s international conference on Libya in Paris was adamant that as he commented: “Russia and Turkey must withdraw their mercenaries without delay.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top foreign policy adviser told AFP on Saturday that Macron’s call for its troop withdrawal is “wrong.” İbrahim Kalın commented: “If you single out the pulling out of foreign forces…from Libya as the most important, as the top issue, we believe that is wrong.” Kalın added: “Libya needs support for its political process, the elections, economic issues.”
The conundrum here is that France was known to be a Haftar supporter yet maintains that it has been objective in the conflict. Many media outlets have uncovered facts that bear out information that not only has France backed Haftar but in September this year, Anadolu Agency revealed that top French secret service agencies are aware of cement giant LaFarge’s ties and funding to ISIS. These revelations would indicate that France is on shaky ground. Kalın said that a continued Turkish military presence in Libya will assist in supporting the North African nation’s political stability and security. As Kalın said: “Our military presence there is to help the Libyan army train.” He added: “We are there as a force of stability and help to the Libyan people. And our priority as far as security is concerned is to help the Libyans establish their united Libyan National Army.”