The situation in Libya appears to be deteriorating towards an even more severe crisis, as both Turkey and Egypt appear to be making moves in support of the rival sides. Turkey recently signed a military cooperation agreement with the UN-assigned Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Egypt, alongside Russia, supports the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who fights on the part of the democratically elected House of Representatives.
On December 19th, unnamed Egyptian sources cited by Middle East Monitor claimed that Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved the deployment of Russian-made tanks to Libya to support the forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar in their offensive on Tripoli and their fight against the primarily terrorist groups that are employed to fight on behalf of the GNA.
The sources allegedly explained that the Egyptian government officials agreed with Haftar that they would “temporarily” provide these tanks, provided that he hands back the rest of them after the end of the battle and the achievement of his goals, about the storming of the Libyan capital.
The sources supposedly claimed that the agreement was concluded as such to avoid conflict with the UN anti-armament resolution imposed on parties of the conflict in Libya.
According to the sources, the decision was made after “Cairo sensed serious intentions from Ankara of direct military intervention in Libya” in favour of the GNA.
On December 18th, the head of the GNA Fayez Al-Sarraj and the Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha discussed facilitating capabilities to counter the LNA’s offensive amid the ongoing “full mobilization of forces across the country” to repel the “aggression of Khalifa Haftar’s forces on Tripoli”.
On the same day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would further military cooperation with the GNA and would even go ahead and offer military support.
“We will speed up the process between Turkey and Libya. We told them that we are always ready to help if they need it. From military and security cooperation, to steps taken regarding our maritime rights – we are ready,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan also said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have appointed delegations to discuss developments in Libya and that the officials would meet “soon”.
For its part, the Kremlin said that Erdogan and Putin would address Ankara’s offer of military support to Serraj’s government during talks in Turkey next month. Erdogan and Putin then held a phone call to discuss Libya.
The LNA’s renewed offensive on Tripoli is on-going, with it advancing towards he Al-Nahd district, located close to the center of the Libyan capital Tripoli, the LNA press service said on Facebook.
Earlier, the chief of the Haftar’s army for moral training, Brigadier General Ahmed Mahjub, told RIA Novosti that the troops leading the attack on Tripoli surrounded the city.
“The armed forces are firmly moving towards the Al-Nahd area and are gaining control over several new positions after the GNA formations retreated from their observation posts, so that these positions become points of our armed forces “, the statement said.
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