Anwar Gargash tells Turkey to stop meddling in Arab affairs over Libya

Turkey sent up to 3,800 Syrian mercenaries to Libya in first three months of year

FILE PHOTO: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, speaks at an event at Chatham House in London, Britain July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said yesterday that Turkey should stop interfering in Arab matters, criticising comments on Libya made by Ankara's defence minister.

“Relations are not managed by threats and there is no place for colonialist delusions in this day and age,” Dr Gargash said on Twitter.

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's forces, based in eastern Libya, are battling those of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, for which Turkey has increased its military and political support.

Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 Syrian mercenaries to Libya in the first three months of the year, the US Defence Department’s inspector general said in a new report.

The quarterly update on counter-terrorism operations in Africa by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog is its first to give details on Turkish involvement in the conflict.

It says Ankara paid and offered citizenship to thousands of mercenaries fighting the Libyan National Army, and that they were probably motivated by money, not ideology.

In January, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation condemned a Turkish parliamentary vote that authorised Ankara to send troops to Libya in support of the GNA. 

The vote, which passed 325 to 184 during an extraordinary session of the Turkish Parliament, gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a year to decide on how to support the GNA.

The resolution said troops should be sent with the aim of “eliminating attacks on the interests of Turkey and Libya”.

The UAE ministry said Turkey was playing a dangerous role by supporting extremist and terrorist organisations and “transporting extremist elements to Libya”.

It said Ankara’s intervention represented “a clear threat to Arab national security and the stability of the Mediterranean region”.