After weeks of military gains by Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), President Trump has called for a deescalation during his phone call with Turkey’s President Erdogan. Turkey is the GNA’s only foreign ally.
This is bound to once again raise questions about the US position. Nominally the US is backing the GNA, but at times Trump has expressed support for their enemy, the Libyan National Army (LNA). The deescalation would be seen as bailing out the LNA from recent losses.
“President Trump reiterated concern over worsening foreign interference in Libya and the need for rapid de-escalation,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
The LNA has a lot of foreign allies, from France and Russia to virtually the whole list of Gulf Arab states. LNA leader Khalifa Hafter, was a CIA asset in the past, and the US has criticized Russia for being too close with him, despite their own long history of backing him.
As the LNA has promised to respond with a massive air campaign, diplomats have warned of the risk of a new round of escalation with the warring sides’ external backers pouring in new weaponry.
Turkey “will not bow to threats by Haftar or anyone else,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said separately in an interview on NTV.
LNA General Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar: Every Turkish solider, mercenary sent by Erdogan to Libya and every traitor who has allowed the occupier to return is a target of our armed forces. Do not show them any mercy. #Libya #LibyaReview pic.twitter.com/ywJNeGfvkx— Libya Review (@LibyaReview) May 23, 2020
It’s not clear where Turkey is going with this, as they mostly want maritime rights and a military base.
Those are likely secured already, but the GNA probably feels very little need to step down in the face of recent gains.