By helping to arm and fund the warlord Khalifa Haftar, French President Emmanuel Macron has undermined the legitimate and internationally recognised Libyan government and destabilised the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron is complaining about Turkey’s involvement in Libya, accusing Ankara of playing a “dangerous game” in the country and warning its actions will not be tolerated.
His comments come months after Turkey responded to the UN-recognised and legitimate Libyan government’s request for help as warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias encroached on the capital, Tripoli.
Turkey’s involvement in Libya is considered legal under the auspices of both Libyan and international law.
Ankara has therefore rubbished the suggestion that it is the party responsible for the situation in Libya, and has instead pointed to France’s role.
Haftar is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and despite his reputation for committing atrocities and its own purported commitment to human rights, also France.
"The greatest obstacle to peace and stability in Libya is the support provided by France and some other countries to the illegitimate entities, which is contrary to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
Paris also faces criticism from fellow members of the EU for supporting a warlord responsible for so many atrocities against civilians.
Speaking after an attack at a migrant detention centre that killed at least 44 people, former Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said: “Haftar is responsible for a criminal attack … I hope there is no one left, and I do not mention the French, who for economic and commercial reasons support an attack on civilian targets.”
Analysts say that for too long France has prioritised its economic interests over the well being of civilians.
Their arguments goes as follows: Libya under Gaddafi was a major exporter of crude oil to France, after his demise and subsequent civil conflict in the country, Paris has reasoned that another strongman, in this case Haftar, can ensure Libya once again becomes a reliable source of energy.
Undermining the GNA
While France has ostensibly promised to support the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), its actions on the ground show that it has worked glove in hand with Haftar to ensure it is undermined at every juncture.
Support for Haftar has taken place on the diplomatic level with frequent visits by Haftar to the Elysee, as well as through weapons supplies and even boots on the ground.
In July 2019, the Pentagon concluded that anti-tank missiles that it had supplied to France had ended up in the hands of Haftar’s militias.
France has also deployed its special forces to Libya in order to train Haftar’s militias - the same forces accused of war crimes against civilians and prisoners.
Such assistance has helped prolong a war that has devastated Libya’s economy, killed thousands of people including civilians, and left Libya in a perpetual state of chaos as its legitimate government is continuously trying to fend off the ambitions of a warlord instead of bringing stability to the country.
For Libyans, if France’s designation of Turkey’s actions to defend the Libyan government is considered to be “aggression” then the logical question is how its own involvement can be characterised.
British Libyan psychiatrist Dr Ahmed Sewehli, a commentator on Libyan affairs, told TRT World that France had helped contribute to the current conflict in Libya.
“France has invested heavily in destabilising Libya and putting a stop to the progress in the democratic process that started in 2012.” Sewehli said, adding that the French “gave the diplomatic support that Haftar needed for his violent campaign.
“The Libyan government never invited France into Libya, which is in contrast to the official agreements signed between Libya and Turkey.
“France has no right to interfere in what agreement Libya signs with friendly countries.”
France’s history of interference on the African continent is not limited to Libya and the country has a torrid history of violence in the region.
Until 1962, Algeria was ruled as a constituent part of France but one in which the majority of the Muslim population was not allowed to acquire French citizenship without first renouncing their Muslim faith and Arab culture.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Italy has accused France of failing to fully decolonise its presence from independent African states. Rome says French colonial hangovers persist to this day and are evident in the way several African countries are required to deposit foreign currency reserves with French banks, robbing them of full control of their monetary policy.
Italian officials argue by hindering the economic development of African states, France is contributing to the migration crisis in Libya.