Leaders of France, Germany and Italy called for an immediate cease-fire in Libya and said they are ready to consider sanctions if conflict parties and their foreign backers continue to violate a weapons embargo, reports Bloomberg. While Turkey is not specifically mentioned in the declaration, it is one of the two major actors in the civil war, along with Russia. US, on the other hand, took the side of France, when a Turkish frigate lit its radar on its French counterpart, but the White House remains supportive of Turkish aid to NGA, to prevent Russian expansion.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte demanded an “immediate cessation of fighting” in the oil-rich nation, according to a statement issued after they met on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels.
The three cited violations of a United Nations-sponsored weapons embargo, which the EU is backing with a sea mission in the Mediterranean.
“We are ready to consider the possible use of sanctions should breaches to the embargo at sea, on land or in the air continue,” the statement said on Saturday.
Libya has been engulfed in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed revolt, with conflict parties backed by Turkey and Russia as well as neighboring countries such as Egypt.
Turkish backing for Libya’s internationally recognized government based in Tripoli helped end a military campaign on the capital by forces led by Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army has been pushed east. Haftar’s backers — which include state-linked Russian mercenaries and the United Arab Emirates — have called for talks, while trying to ensure he doesn’t lose more territory.
Voice of America: Analysts See Thaw in US-Turkish Relations
Analysts say Turkey’s deepening involvement in the Libyan conflict could be the catalyst for a reset in relations with the United States, in recent years strained by regional policy differences and mutual distrust.
“The United States and Turkey appear on the same page in Libya,” said Mithat Rende, a former Turkish ambassador to Qatar who now works as an energy consultant covering the eastern Mediterranean. “The deploying of Russian fighters in the eastern part of Libya made the American side quite disturbed by Russian intentions, so hopefully they [Turkey and the United States] can work together.”
“Turkey is the only power to counter Russia’s naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Mehmet Ogutcu with the London Energy Club policy group. “Turkey is tilting more towards the United States, which probably the Russians are not too happy to observe”, reports Dorian Jones from Istanbul.
“Turkey is currently undergoing a military operation in Northern Iraq, three to four military operations in Syria, and the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya,” said international relations professor Ilhan Uzgel of Ankara University. “Turkey needs not Russia but the United States to sustain its so overstretched military engagements.”
Ankara is now giving signs it could be ready to look once again to Washington. The indefinite delay of the activation of the billion-dollar S-400 missile system averted threatened U.S.-Turkish economic sanctions.
Trump’s removal, last month of Richard Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, played well in Ankara. Berman was leading the prosecution of the Turkish state-owned Halkbank for Iranian sanction busting.
Turkey’s increased purchases of American liquefied natural gas is also likely to be well received in Washington.
“40% of our LNG comes from American, second only to Spain in Europe. We are trying to reduce our dependency on Russian gas to a manageable level,” said Ogutcu.
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