Erdogan spokesman: 'France and those supporting Haftar are on wrong side of Libyan conflict'
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed the situation in Libya, where Turkey has sent troops in support of the UN-backed Tripoli-based government. He also talked about Syria and the dispute with the Trump administration over Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.
Concerning Libya, Turkish presidential spokesman Kalin said the military support that Ankara has given to the Tripoli-based government of Fayez al-Sarraj against the forces of his arch-rival Khalifa Haftar has provided some "balance" to the conflict. He confirmed that Haftar's troops have retreated from the capital, Tripoli, singling out the role of foreign mercenaries from Africa but also from Russia's Wagner Group.
Kalin also said the United Arab Emirates had been supporting Haftar, which he said was illustrated by a recent UN report alleging that Western mercenaries working for companies based in the UAE were sent to Libya a few months ago to support Haftar. He accused the eastern Libyan strongman of breaking "every single agreement, every single ceasefire" and stressed that Turkey was looking for a "political solution" and not egging on Sarraj to militarily go after Haftar.
The top Turkish official said countries such as France – which he accuses of still supporting Haftar – had "of course" been wrong to do so. "We believe that anyone who is still supporting Haftar is on the wrong side in the Libyan conflict," Kalin told FRANCE 24.
He said the disagreements with France, as well as the US, also extended to Syria, stressing that their support for the Kurdish PYD/YPG was wrongheaded because he claimed this was merely the Syrian branch of the PKK "terrorist organisation". In addition, he said this support undermined the territorial continuity of Syria.
Finally, with regards to the dispute with the Trump administration over Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems, Kalin said Turkey had postponed the activation of the systems due to Covid-19. He said the plan was still to activate the Russian-made system but hinted that if the US showed it was open to sending Patriot missiles to Turkey, Erdogan would be ready to listen.
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