On December 19th, Libya’s UN-appointed Government of National Accord (GNA) accepted Turkey’s offer for military and logistical support in its attempt to repel the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) advance on Tripoli.
The GNA issued a statement in which it said that its cabinet, led by Fayez al-Sarraj had unanimously “unanimously approved the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation between the GNA and the Turkish government signed on November 27”.
Initially, after signing the memorandum of understanding for military cooperation, Turkey said that it would simply wait for the GNA to request help, but it appears that the timeline didn’t suit the Turkish side, so it simply offered its assistance and it was promptly accepted.
On the previous day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was ready to help the GNA.
“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 was cited.
At his annual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he wished for peace to return to Libya and for the GNA and the LNA, fighting on behalf of the democratically elected House of Representatives to negotiate. Putin said he would discuss Libya with a Turkish delegation in Russia soon.
On December 19th, the LNA said that Tripoli had been entirely besieged, from every direction and that it was simply a matter of time until the city was taken.
The LNA spokesperson released a video, as well as posted a statement calling for the GNA to remove its forces from Tripoli and Sirte and it gave them 72 hours to do so.
بيان هام بخصوص عمليات عسكرية في مدينة مصراته
Posted by الناطق الرسمي باسم القيادة العامة للقوات المسلحة العربية الليبية on Thursday, December 19, 2019
بيان القيادة العامة للقوات المسلحة العربية الليبية بشأن استهداف سلاح الجو الليبي لأهداف عسكرية في مدينة مصراتة ليلة…
As per the statement, the spokesperson praised the success of LNA airstrikes on Misrata, and other GNA positions and said that forces from Tripoli and Sirte would be given until noon on December 22nd to withdraw. The forces, withdrawing from the position would not be targeted, given they do so in the given timeline.
“The desperate attempts made by the leader of the defeated Al-Sarraj in his last moments represented in his request formally and publicly to receive logistical and technical military support from Turkey is only an attempt to delay the unavoidable end,” the statement concluded.
Furthermore, the Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s LNA would target any Turkish forces that entered Libyan territory.
Brig. Khaled Al-Mahjoub, director of moral guidance in Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, said in statement to Al Arabiya, that it was unlikely Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would send troops to Libya, “because this violates UN Security Council resolutions.”
He said any Turkish troops setting foot on Libyan territory would be considered “hostile” forces and legitimate target.
Thus, the two possible outcomes of the current situation are:
- The LNA entirely conquers Tripoli and Sirte, through a withdrawal by the GNA, or by force and Turkey undertakes no effective action;
- Turkey sends in troops and the situation risks spiraling out of control and sending Libya into an even more severe crisis.
The events of the coming days are critical for the direction the conflict is about to take.
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