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Turkey criticizes Germany on Libya embargo

August 6, 2020

Turkey's top diplomat has said Germany's participation in the EU's "Irini" arms embargo mission means Berlin is no longer "impartial." Turkey says the embargo benefits rebel leader Khalifa Haftar.

A fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Libyan Government of National Accord
Image: AFP/M. Turkia

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday criticized Germany's participation in a European Union mission supervising an international weapon's embargo on Libya. 

Cavusoglu was in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for talks with, Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey is one of the GNA's strongest supporters. 

In comments to Turkish media following the meeting, Cavusoglu accused Berlin of compromising its neutrality in the Libyan conflict after Germany sent a frigate Tuesday carrying 250 soldiers to participate in the EU's "Irini" mission.

Irini was launched in May to stop weapons from reaching Libya, which is embroiled in a power struggle between the GNA and forces loyal to eastern Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Germany 'losing impartiality' on Libya

"Irini is a biased operation … Germany is the host of the Berlin conference; therefore itneeds to be neutral and objective," Cavusoglu told Turkish state news agency Anadolu. 

In January, Germany hosted an international conference on the Libyan conflictin Berlin, during which several countries agreed to uphold an arms embargo. 

Cavusoglu said that Germany's participation in Irini would make the Berlin conference "illegitimate."

"If it [Germany] takes part in a biased operation, it will lose its impartiality," Cavusoglu said, adding Berlin's involvement makes the situation in Libya "more complicated." 

Hell on Earth: Refugees in Libya

"Germany has been unable to bridge the gap between even its European allies, some of whom are seeking eventually the victory of Haftar over his opponents and others who are more critical of his ability to win and are more supportive of the GNA," Middle East and North Africa expert Tim Eaton, told DW in January.

Read more: Germany exports millions in arms to Libya war belligerents, despite embargo

Cavusoglu has argued that Irini operation favors Haftar's forces. In June, he criticized the mission as being "not objective" and failing to target military equipment originating from Haftar's supporters. 

There is divided international support for the GNA and Haftar's forces. France is considered to be a supporter of Haftar, along with Egypt, Syria, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Turkey provides military support to the GNA, including drones that helped GNA forces push Haftar from Libya's northwest. 

Read more: France calls out NATO over 'Turkey problem' as alliance meets

The division of international support for both sides in the conflict has made the UN arms embargo difficult to enforce. In July, the leaders of France, Italy and Germany threatened sanctions and said "all foreign actors" need to stop interfering in Libya and to respect the embargo.

wmr/rc (dpa, AFP)