The Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya will only agree to a ceasefire if the Libyan National Army (LNA) withdraws from the strategic positions of Sirte and Jufra, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday.
Cavusoglo told the FT that there is a “determination” among GNA officials to resume its offensive against the LNA if it does not retreat from the strategic positions in central Libya.
He also hinted that Turkey could support a GNA offensive, saying that Ankara considers the GNA’s “preconditions” for the ceasefire “legitimate and reasonable,” according to the FT.
#OOTT #Libya The Red Line: Turkey says Libyan forces it backs will cross it, Egypt says it may send its army to hold it. East of the line is Sirte Basin, two thirds of Libyan oil production. Libya has Africa's largest oil reserves. (Military/oil map: Petroleum Economist) pic.twitter.com/oMiFwiPeYT— Chris Stephen (@reportingLibya) June 21, 2020
Turkey’s intervention in Libya in May changed the course of the war in favor of the GNA, which had been under siege in the capital Tripoli by the LNA, led by military Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
The GNA, supported by thousands of Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya by Turkey as well as Turkish air defense systems, weapons, and troops, broke the LNA’s siege and captured the strategic al-Watiya air base to the south of the capital.
Since then, the GNA has been poised to attack Sirte and Jufra in central Libya, but has not began a forward offensive. Both sides have vowed to control the strategic center of the country, with Egypt and its allied LNA describing it as a “red line” that would prompt escalation.
Sirte is the western gateway to the country’s “oil crescent,” the central region that contains over 60 percent of Libya’s oil, while Jufra is home to the al-Jufra airbase.
The GNA and Turkey rejected the Cairo Initiative, put forward by Gen. Haftar and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which called for an immediate ceasefire.