26 June – 2 July: Turkey threatens LNA as “legitimate target” following the arrest of six Turkish nationals

Jul 2, 2019 | International actors

On 28 June, the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, banned all commercial flights from Libya to Turkey and prohibited all Turkish ships from docking at Libyan ports. Moreover, Mismari claimed the LNA would attack any Turkish military personnel present in Libya. On 30 June, the head of the eastern-based parallel Audit Bureau, Omar Abed Rabbu, issued a decree to all eastern-based bodies and authorities banning the import and export of any goods from Turkey by land, air or sea. The decree also prevents any foreign exchange, issuance of documents of credit and transfers to and from Turkey.

On 29 June, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had released a statement in response to reports that several Turkish civilians had been arrest by the LNA, claiming that “The detention of 6 citizens by illegal militia forces of Haftar in Libya is an act of banditry and piracy. We expect our citizens to be released immediately. Otherwise the elements of Haftar will become a legitimate target.” On 1 July, the LNA released six Turkish nationals. The arrest of the six Turkish nationals coincided with the arrest of two other Turkish citizens in the town of Ajdabiya by local security forces in connection to the LNA’s anti-Turkey decrees. The security directory of Ajdabiya posted photos of the two men online and called upon citizens to report any Turkish national or business operating in the town.

On 28 June, the coordinating body for the Government of National Accord (GNA)-aligned forces in western Libya, Burkan al-Ghadab (Volcano of Anger), published photos of weapons it claimed to have seized after it took control of the city of Ghariyan from Libyan National Army (LNA) forces on 26 June. The images showed Javelin anti-tank missiles, three Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and other weapon caches that it claimed came from the UAE. An analysis by experts indicates the contract numbers on the missile crates corresponds with an order placed by the UAE and Oman with the US in 2008. In response, on 29 June, the US State and Defence Departments indicated they would open an investigation to look into how American-made weapons had found their way to Libya, stating “we expect all recipients of U.S origin defence equipment to abide by their end-use obligation.”