Chances of Libyan breakthrough in Berlin in doubt, Erdogan threatens to “teach a lesson” to Haftar

The commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar (C, front) leaves the Greek ministry building after a meeting with Greek Foreign Ministrer Dendias in Athens, Greece, 17 January 2020. EPA-EFE/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

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Turkish threats to “teach a lesson” to Libyan strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar following a breakdown in Tuesday’s cease-fire talks in Moscow has cast serious doubt over the chances of a breakthrough in Berlin.

Hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this Sunday’s talks will bring together leaders of Libya’s warring parties, including Haftar and Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

Officials from international organizations and a number of countries, including Turkey and Russia, will also attend.

The Berlin talks also present an unexpected opportunity for EU leaders to take a leading role in the negotiations, which has mainly been played by Russia and Turkey thus far.

However, France and Italy remain divided over Libya. France supports Haftar’s forces, while Italy is aligned with the GNA.

The current conflict in Libya erupted in April 2019 when Haftar’s forces, based in the east of the country, launched a bid to seize the capital Tripoli.

The Berlin talks come just days after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he “will not hesitate to teach a deserved lesson to the putschist Haftar” in response to his walkout of the Moscow talks.

Turkish military advisers are already assisting GNA forces, and Erdogan has threatened a large-scale military intervention in the conflict.

The Berlin talks aim to introduce an arms embargo on the warring factions, both of which are supported by major regional and global players.

Meanwhile Greece’s government has urged General Khalifa Haftar to agree to a ceasefire in Libya and to condemn a controversial maritime boundary deal with Turkey that has provoked anger in Athens.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that the government had asked Haftar, who is fighting for control of the war torn north African state against the Turkey-backed government, to “recognise the non-validity of the illegal agreements between Turkey and the (Libyan) government.”

Dendias was referring to a deal signed between Libya and Turkey to delineate a boundary between the two countries in the Mediterranean, giving Turkey and Libya access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean despite the objections of Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.

Haftar did not comment after the meeting, and headed to another meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. On Thursday, Mitsotakis said that Greece “will never accept a political solution for Libya that does not require the cancellation” of the maritime deal with Turkey.

Read more via Arab News/Euronews

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