France not supported by Europe, NATO in Libya – FT
France supporting Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar over the U.N.-recognised government of Fayez al Sarraj, backed by Turkey, has been questioned by European diplomats and the country has not found much support for its campaign from NATO, analysts wrote for the Financial Times on Monday.
France has come head to head with Turkey over Libya, Syria, and territorial issues in the Mediterranean. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said Turkey’s actions in Libya were “criminal.”
European diplomats don’t see the situation as so clear-cut, and some even praise Turkey’s intervention in the war-torn country, FT said.
“Let’s be honest, Turkey stopped the fall of Tripoli,” the FT cited an unnamed senior European diplomat as saying. “Without their intervention, it would have been a humanitarian disaster.”
Last November, Turkey signed a maritime deal with Libya to redefine its territorial waters, augmented by a military deal where Turkey sent weapons, ammunition, experienced senior officers and Syrian mercenaries it recruited to help Tripoli-based Sarraj take back control in the war-torn country. In recent weeks, the support has led to a turn in the tide against Haftar’s forces that had advanced towards the Libyan capital with Russia’s military backing.
Until recently, France offered support to Haftar in Libya’s unrest, which began after dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting in 2011 following a NATO campaign led by France and Britain.
U.S.-made missiles that had been purchased by France were discovered in one of Haftar’s camps by Libyan government forces after Haftar’s offensive in south Libya that he accelerated last year was pushed back. France’s support had been influential in Haftar's decision to kick his assault on Tripoli into gear, the FT said.
Paris has since adopted a neutral stance, as Macron insists, but the shift away from Haftar and France focusing on criticising Ankara may be more due to Sarraj getting the upper hand, it said.