Turkey warned Egypt against any deployment of forces in the Libyan civil war and sharply criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s role, highlighting the threat of escalating violence and geopolitical rivalries in the oil-rich country.
The remarks by Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, come days after Egypt’s parliament gave the green light for possible military intervention in Libya to support eastern commander Khalifa Haftar. Turkey backs the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli.
"The recent announcement by the Egyptian government and the parliament giving the government the mandate — or the license — to send Egyptian troops into Libya is very counterproductive,” Kalin said Thursday during an online event organized by the Brussels-based European Policy Centre. "It will be a dangerous military adventure for Egypt.”
Egypt has become anxious about territorial gains made by the Libyan government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Turkish support has allowed Sarraj’s administration to turn the tide of the war.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said last week that his country’s military was capable of reversing the situation if pro-government forces sought to seize the key city of Sirte, the gateway to a coastal area that is home to Libyan oil-export terminals.
Kalin accused Macron of undermining peace prospects for the country by supporting Haftar, who is also backed by Russia.
"President Macron has been very aggressive with his approach in Libya,” Kalin said. "I guess he’s trying to assert some sort of a leadership in North Africa.”
Kalin said that Macron has unjustly accused Turkey "of being the aggressive side” and that "this kind of action undermines security in North Africa.”
Macron on Thursday said the EU must prevent a United Nations arms embargo on Libya from being violated and stressed the role of the bloc’s naval mission begun earlier this year in enforcing the ban.
"We cannot let foreign powers, whoever they may be, violate the arms embargo,” Macron said after a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Paris.
Turkey has also sparked growing tensions with Cyprus and Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, leading to calls by some in the EU for the bloc to expand largely symbolic sanctions imposed in February.
Greece is ready to take whatever action is needed to protect its sovereign rights, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Thursday. The situation remains stable, two days after Turkey’s illegal announcement to conduct seismic surveys in an area of Greece’s continental shelf, he said.
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