ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN
By Mehmet Tosun
ANKARA (AA) - Forces loyal to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar are not concerned about peace or a ceasefire in Libya, Turkey’s president said Monday.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Gambia with his Gambian counterpart Adama Barrow, Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to a statement Sunday by Ahmed Al-Mismari, the spokesman for Haftar’s forces.
Erdogan said Mismari stated that they did not go to Berlin and Moscow for a solution, but to “explain their alleged rightful cause. This statement reflects Haftar’s true intent.”
"We hope that those who came to the Berlin summit on Jan. 19 also heard those comments and will determine their attitude accordingly," Erdogan said, referring to Haftar's uncompromising attitude.
"Haftar himself especially and those with him are legionaries and supported primarily by the Abu Dhabi administration [in the United Arab Emirates]. Money is given from there, and now also more than 5,000 soldiers were deployed from Sudan to here," he added.
On Jan. 12, parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But two days later in Russia, talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
A week later, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
Speaking to reporters en route to Gambia from Algeria, Erdogan said: "Haftar -- who turned his back on both the Moscow and Berlin summits -- is violating the ceasefire in Libya. If peace is to be established in Libya, he should be stopped."
"Haftar and his forces are playing a dirty game, and we are watching them. We will continue to do whatever is necessary," he added.
Egypt and the Abu Dhabi administration are the most important supporters of Haftar and Russia is in Libya with the Wagner paramilitary group.
The Abu Dhabi administration provides full financial support for Wagner. The weapons and ammunition are also coming from Abu Dhabi.
Referring to Russia's support to Haftar’s forces, Erdogan said it is not a good step for Russia to deploy troops (mercenaries) in Libya through the Wagner group.
"There are on average 2,500 legionaries [in Haftar’s forces]. There can be more, but not less. Who pays their costs? Abu Dhabi pays. Actually, Haftar is also a paid legionnaire," he said.
Additionally, commenting on his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Turkey on Jan. 24, Erdogan said: "I told Merkel that you give this liar an opportunity to be pampered."
*Writing by Faruk Zorlu and Fahri Aksut