Algerian president warns Libya’s Tripoli is a 'red line', as Haftar offensive rolls-on

Algerian president warns Libya’s Tripoli is a 'red line', as Haftar offensive rolls-on
Algeria's president met with Libyan GNA leader over the rising tension in the country, and insists on keeping foreign military intervention out.
4 min read
07 January, 2020
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum shake hands [Getty]
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune doesn't want foreign military intervention in Libya, he said during a meeting with Government of National Accord (GNA) leader Fayez al-Sarraj.

The head of Libya's internationally-recognised government travelled to Algeria and met with the newly inaugurated North African leader to discuss tensions in the region, while Turkey has authorised sending troops to prevent the escalation of violence.

During Monday’s meeting with Al-Sarraj, Tebboune called Tripoli "a red line no one should cross".

He also called on the international community to "assume its responsibilities to impose an immediate ceasefire and put an end to this military escalation which is claiming more victims every day".

Tebboune added: "Algeria strongly denounces the acts of violence, including the recent massacre of nearly 30 students at the Military Academy in Tripoli, a criminal act and even a way crime.

"Therefore, Algeria considers the Libyan capital Tripoli as red line not to be crossed."

Tebboune said that since the beginning of the Libyan crisis in 2011, which occurred after the killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Algeria has adopted the principle of "finding a political solution to protect the unity of the Libyan people and the territorial integrity of the country without foreign intervention".

The Algerian president said GNA premier Fayez al-Sarraj arrived as the head of a high-ranking team to "discuss ways to resolve the difficult situation" in Libya.

He was to meet Algeria's newly-elected President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the official APS news agency reported.

Algerian state television said the GNA's foreign and interior ministers met their Algerian counterparts.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was also due in Algiers on Monday, according to his ministry, to "exchange views on the regional situation and international issues".

Chaos intensifies

As fighting enters its ninth month, the Tripoli administration suffered serious blows to its territorial base, with key coastal areas lost to rebel forces.

The UN condemned a drone strike on a military academy by the Haftar-led insurgency which led to the death of 30 cadets and left 30 more injured.

The self-styled "Libyan National Army" have been laying siege to the capital since April, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and a return to the table for political dialogue.

In December, Haftar announced a "decisive battle" to capture Tripoli in a "broad and total assault" and besieged the city once again.

This came not long after Turkey reached a controversial maritime agreement with the GNA - which Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece vehemently oppose - as well as a military and security cooperation deal under which Tripoli can request direct Turkish military assistance, which it has.

On 2 January, Turkish parliament passed legislation authorising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deploy troops in the country, thereby cementing its involvement in the conflict.

The GNA hopes Turkey will deploy naval forces as well as establish a no-fly zone over the parts of west Libya it controls.

In response to Turkey's intervention, Libya’s rogue general declared a "jihad", calling on Libyans to take up arms to "defend our land and honour".

"We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms," Haftar said in a televised address last week.

Fractious country

Libya has been in a conflict since 2011 following the toppling and killing of Gaddafi, which plunged the country into chaos and divided it into the GNA, which is strenuously based in Tripoli, and rival authorities in the country's east led by renegade Khalifa Haftar.

Tensions came to a head last year when Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, which prompted GNA to seek help from Turkey, whose parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya to hold up the Tripoli government.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) meets Foreign Minister of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum [Getty]

On Sunday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that its soldiers had begun deploying in the North African country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Tebboune on Monday to invite Algeria to an international conference on Libya, to be held in Berlin later this month.

The European Union are calling for a de-escalation of violence, though it hasn't done anything practice aside from expressing "concern".

"The European Union calls on all sides to engage in a political process under the leadership of the United Nations," said the EU high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell.

European ministers will meet for an emergency talks on Iran and Libya, as the EU attempts to de-escalate two major crises on its doorstep.

Talks between the UK, France, Germany and Italy, plus the EU diplomatic chief, will address the US killing of a top Iranian commander, as well as Tehran's latest step back from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Also of concern the seizure of a key Libyan town, Sirte, from the government by forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar as well as an offensive on the capital Tripoli.

Turkey has also rushed in troops to Libya to support the Government of National Accord (GNA), while Haftar is supported by Egypt and the UAE.

The EU's chief condemned Turkish "interference" in Libya after Ankara sent troops to support the UN-backed Tripoli government, warning this complicates the crisis in the oil-rich state.

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