The foreign policy chief at Libya’s interim cabinet, Abdelhadi Al Houij, dismissed on Monday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claims that Moscow is "managing" the conflict in Libya at the highest level.
"When we speak about peace, we totally do not take Erdogan into account. Of all political figures, he is the farthest from peaceful settlement. His speeches about Russia have absolutely nothing to do with the truth," Abdelhadi Al Houij told journalists on the sidelines of the Middle East conference of the Valdai international discussion club, answering to a question from TASS.
"We support and welcome Russia’s role in solving the Libyan crisis. We welcome president Putin’s efforts for the benefit of our country, and thank him for that," the Libyan diplomat added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier claimed that Russia was allegedly "managing" the Libyan war at the highest level. According to Turkey’s NTV television, to confirm his words, Erdogan said there was a photo in one room of Commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and another person believed to be the head of the Wagner private military company.
Russian Presidential Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov said Erdogan’s assertions were "far from the real state of affairs." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also dismissed as rumors the claims that "Russian mercenaries" were present in the Arab country.
Deployment of Turkish troops
Libya views the deployment of Turkish troops in the country as an agression and will resist it by all means possible, the foreign policy chief at Libya’s interim cabinet, Abdelhadi Al Houij, told journalists in Moscow on Monday.
"On the part of Turkey this [the deployment of Turkish servicemen] is, naturally, not interference but aggression. This is an attempt by Turks to once again seize Libya," Abdelhadi Al Houij told journalists on the sidelines of the Middle East conference of the Valdai international discussion club, referring to the fact that Libya was a part of the Ottoman Empire in the past.
"We will resist Turkey’s attempt to conquer Libya and any other outside attempt to bring us under submission. We will use all means possible to protect our territory and will engage all Libyan citizens into the effort," the diplomat said. "We do not seek a war or military confrontation but will fight if we are forced to."
Currently, Libya has two parallel bodies of executive power: the internationally recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj and Abdullah al-Thani’s interim government operating in the country’s east together with parliament and supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) and its Commander Khalifa Haftar.
On April 4, Haftar announced the launch of an offensive in Tripoli to eliminate the terrorist groups that got hold there. In turn, Sarraj ordered all military units loyal to him to gear up to defend the capital, while the armed units in the capital launched operation dubbed ‘Volcano of Rage’ to fight back. The conflict led to death of hundreds of people and destruction of vital infrastructure facilities, while thousands of Libyans were forced to flee their homes. On December 12, Haftar announced that his troops are beginning "the decisive battle for the capital" to "free it from the terrorists."
The GNA mobilized all troops loyal to it to defend Tripoli, officially appealing to Turkey for help based on a memorandum of military cooperation signed in late November. The army command has repeatedly accused Ankara of supplying arms and providing other assistance and support to Tripoli’s authorities bypassing the international embargo as well as transferring hundreds of hired guns from Syria to Libya, including ISIS terrorists.
On January 2, the Turkish parliament adopted a bill that paves the way for sending Turkish servicemen to Libya.