Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

Gargash: UAE’s interest in Libya to stop outside powers destabilising Arab world

Dr Anwar Gargash says international community must stop Turkey's intervention in Tripoli

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash speaks during the Gulf Security Symposium. Pawan Singh / The National
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash speaks during the Gulf Security Symposium. Pawan Singh / The National

The UAE’s interest in Libya is to ensure outside powers cannot use the country as a lever to destabilise the Arab world, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Tuesday.

“Libya has the potential to be a cornerstone of regional economic growth and cohesion,” Dr Gargash wrote in the French magazine Le Point on Tuesday.

The country has been mired in chaos and violence since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

The Government of National Accord controls the west, including the capital Tripoli, while Field Marshal Haftar holds the east and some of the oases and oilfields in the south.

In recent months, Turkey has intervened heavily in Libya, providing firepower on the ground for the GNA to repel a year-long assault by the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Haftar.

The arrangement has rallied at least half a dozen nations – notably, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and France – against Turkey’s aspirations for regional hegemony.

“Turkey has made it clear that it has no desire to be a bridge between Europe and the Arab World: it has chosen, rather, to model Turkey’s past imperial position as a competitor and adversary to both,” Dr Gargash wrote.

“Turkey has many things to answer for, with its long-term attempts – in concert with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood – to sow chaos in the Arab World, while using an aggressive and perverted interpretation of Islam as cover,” Dr Gargash said.

Last November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a maritime deal with the GNA, granting Turkey drilling rights in gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean that are also claimed by Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.

“Late last year, Erdogan skillfully exploited divisions within Libya’s Government of National Accord to promulgate bilateral agreements that he then used to justify expansive resource grabs in the Mediterranean and to deliver advanced weaponry and thousands of Syrian mercenaries into Western Libya,” Dr Gargash said.

He called on the international community to “send a clear and unequivocal message to Turkey that its behaviour is unacceptable”.

It must also push calls for an “unconditional ceasefire, one that allows Libya to return to a political process, shielded from hostile external actions”, he said.

Updated: July 1, 2020 10:46 AM

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