1 July – 7 July: Turkish officials visit Tripoli

Jul 8, 2020 | International actors

On 3 July, Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, and Turkish Chief of Staff, General Yasar Guler, made an unannounced visit to Tripoli to meet with senior Government of National Accord (GNA) officials and discuss the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Turkey and the GNA. Unconfirmed reports claim that Akar’s visit culminated in an agreement to see Turkey’s interests in Libya protected including the protection of its forces from prosecution, diplomatic immunity for its officers, the ability to establish a military base with resident forces in Libya.

On 1 July, France temporarily withdrew its participation from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian – a maritime security operation with a ‘situational awareness’ and ‘counter terrorism’ mandate – in protest at fellow NATO member Turkey’s involvement in breaking the arms embargo in place on Libya. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told the European Parliament on 2 July that NATO must make Ankara realise it cannot ‘violate’ NATO rules and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian wants EU foreign ministers to consider new sanctions on Ankara during a video meeting on 13 July.

On 3 July, the speaker of the Tubruq-based House of Representatives (HoR), Aqeela Saleh, held a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, as a part of a series of meetings with Russian officials to discuss and conclude the Saleh-Russia political roadmap. Reports claimed that a return to political dialogue, the ‘Cairo initiative’, Berlin conference conclusions, and the UN mediated 5+5 dialogues were discussed. On 6 July, Lavrov, announced that Russia’s embassy to Libya would be reopening in Tunis headed by Charge d’Affaires Jamshed Boltaev and would be ‘continuing’ its work. Russia’s embassy in Tripoli has been vacant since October 2013, when it evacuated all staff following an attack.

On 1 July, a high-level US delegation undertook a meeting with LNA officials via a virtual platform to discuss disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) initiatives within the framework of the UN-mediated 5 + 5 talks. This follows similar talks on 24 June with GNA officials, and the statement stressed this subsequent LNA meeting was in keeping with the ‘US policy of active neutrality on Libya.’ The US delegation stressed its opposition to all foreign interference in Libya and discussed the imperative of an immediate ceasefire and return to UN-facilitated security and political negotiations.  The U.S. delegation also emphasized that the LNA’s affiliation with the Wagner group – which it referred to as a Russian Ministry of Defence proxy – and perpetuation of the oil shutdown are at odds with US and Libyan interests.

On 1 July, the speaker of the HoR, Saleh, met with Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, in Tubruq. According to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two men discussed the Berlin process, Greek-Libyan relations, and ‘the possibility for a Greek Consulate to operate in Benghazi, which would facilitate trade transactions.’