Turkey fires back at French criticism over role in Libya

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey shot back on Tuesday at “unacceptable” criticism from France over its armed support for the government in the Libyan capital Tripoli, accusing Paris of being an obstacle to peace.

Turkey, supported by its main regional ally Qatar, backs the United Nations (UN)-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in the conflict against the forces of eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar.

France, despite public denials, has long been suspected of favouring Haftar, who has the backing of Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The main obstacle to establishing peace and stability in Libya is the support given by France and other countries” to Haftar, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, denouncing as “unacceptable” the French criticism.

France’s support for Haftar “has worsened the crisis in Libya,” the ministry added, accusing Paris of serving as the “subcontractor for some countries in the region,” an allusion to the UAE and Egypt.

The heated exchange risks raising tension further between Ankara and Paris, two NATO allies whose relations have deteriorated since 2016.