Turkey’s Erdogan: No military solution to the conflict in Libya

Turkish leader says his country supports dialogue between the warring parties during visit to Algeria.

Tebboune Erdogan
Algeria fears instability in Libya will have negative consequences on its own security [Turkish presidential press service]

Unilateral recourse to force will not bring peace to Libya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned on the first of a two-day visit to Algeria.

“We reiterated that a solution to the conflict in Libya cannot be achieved through military means,” Erdogan said during a press conference with his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, on Sunday.

“We are constantly in touch with neighbouring countries and major international actors to reach a permanent ceasefire and a return to political dialogue.” 

Erdogan earlier in the day lambasted eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar for violating a fragile truce between his Libyan National Army (LNA) and forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). 


Since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has hardly had a stable government.

Fighting escalated in April after Haftar launched an offensive to wrest control of the capital, Tripoli, from the GNA, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Haftar, who is affiliated with a rival government in the east and enjoys the backing of, among others, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France, says his military campaign is aimed at “cleansing” western Libya of “terrorist groups”.

His critics accuse him of being a new Gaddafi in the making.

Diverging interests

Erdogan’s trip to Algeria, part of an African tour that will include stops in The Gambia and Senegal, comes amid a renewed push by the international community to end Libya’s long-running civil war. 

President Tebboune, who attended a peace summit in Berlin last week that saw more than 10 foreign powers agree to halt their support for the warring sides, has upped his country’s involvement in the Libyan peace process since being sworn in a month ago. 

But Algeria, which shares a 1,000km-long border with Libya, and Turkey have few common interests in Libya. 

Ankara signed a controversial maritime border agreement with the embattled GNA in November that upset a number of countries along the eastern Mediterranean.

That deal challenges the exclusive economic zones of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece, and gives Turkey drilling rights in the resource-abundant seabed. 

Algeria’s concerns, however, are more immediate. It fears armed groups in the sparsely populated border region might exploit the power vacuum in Libya to launch attacks inside its territory. 

The country has remained neutral throughout the conflict and recently expressed its readiness to host peace talks between the two sides.

Jalel Harchaoui, a research fellow at the Clingendael Institute and Libya expert, said that Algeria will nevertheless tolerate Turkey’s intervention because it sees it as the lesser of two evils. 

“[This is] because it sees it [Turkey’ intervention] as a way of offsetting something that’s much less acceptable from Algiers’ perspective which is the fact that the UAE has been bombing Tripoli, an urban area of 2.2 million, almost every single day for the past nine months,” Harchaoui said. 

“The Emirati strikes, as they become relentless and create waves of displacement, could end up threatening the stability of Tunisia, which is a red line for Algeria.”

Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum on Thursday hosted his counterparts from the five other countries that border Libya, in addition to Mali. 

A joint statement at the end of the talks said the foreign ministers “exhorted the Libyan belligerents to engage in a dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations and with the help of the African Union and Libya’s neighbours in order to reach a global settlement away from any foreign interference”.

Source: Al Jazeera