Differences “as clear as day” have become apparent between Libyan Presidential Council, chaired by Mohammed al-Menfi, and the Government of National Unity (GNU), headed by Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, over the future of relations with Turkey.
The differences emerged during a surprise visited carried out by a senior Turkish delegation to Tripoli this week, informed sources from the GNU told Asharq Al-Awsat. The delegation included Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
The sources said that Dbeibeh, Foreign Minister Najla al-Manqoush and Menfi are divided over how to deal with Turkey and persuade it to withdraw its Syrian mercenaries from Libya.
Furthermore, they revealed that Dbeibeh was being pressured to dismiss al-Manqoush following her call on Monday for foreign forces to quit Libya. Unofficial reports said the FM has received telephone threats from pro-Turkey officials in the GNU.
Images of Dbeibeh’s meeting with the Turkish delegation revealed the warm welcome he bestowed upon them, while images of the meeting between Menfi and his guests told a different story.
Dbeibeh threw on Monday night an iftar banquet in honor of his guests, while Menfi, after meeting with the officials, sufficed with a brief statement that said they tackled bilateral relations, boosting economic cooperation and overcoming challenges facing the GNU.
Akar on Tuesday vowed that Turkey will continue to preserve peace in Libya until the December 24 elections are held. He said that the Turkish presence is aimed at protecting its interests and rights in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Ankara will continue its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in line with the agreements signed with the former Libyan Government of National Accord, he vowed.
Meanwhile, al-Manqoush’s remarks during a press briefing with her Turkish counterpart revealed the differences between her and Ankara when she openly urged it to pull out the mercenaries.
“We call on (Turkey) to take steps to implement all the provisions of ... the Security Council resolutions and to cooperate together to expel all foreign forces and mercenaries from the Libyan territories,” she said in an apparent rebuke.
Cavusoglu responded by saying that Turkish forces were in Libya as part of a training agreement reached with a previous Libya administration. “There are those who equate our legal presence ... with the foreign mercenary groups that fight in this country for money,” he said.
Unofficial reports said that al-Manqoush received the threats soon after the press conference ended. She did, however, receive the strong backing of figures who are opposed to Turkey’s meddling.