The UN says the "last thing" Libya needs is more conflict on its territory, after Egypt warned of military intervention in the neighbouring country.

Children wave flags of Libya and the Amazigh during a demonstration in the Martyrs' Square in the centre of the Libyan capital Tripoli, currently held by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), on June 21, 2020.
Children wave flags of Libya and the Amazigh during a demonstration in the Martyrs' Square in the centre of the Libyan capital Tripoli, currently held by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), on June 21, 2020. (AFP)

Paris and Tunis have asked the parties in Libya to fulfill their commitments to restart negotiations under the United Nations.

"France and Tunisia together demand that the warring parties ceasefire and keep their commitment to resume negotiations within the United Nations framework to restore security for all, reunite Libyan institutions and starting reconstruction for the benefit of all Libyans," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

During a joint press conference after meeting with Tunisian President Kays Said at Elysee Palace, Macron said he had a chance to talk to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Ankara's role in Libya.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Tunisian President Kais Saied during a joint news conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 22, 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Tunisian President Kais Saied during a joint news conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 22, 2020. (Christophe Petit Tesson / Reuters)

Ankara supports the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the conflict against Khalifa Haftar, a renegade warlord backed by Paris, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Moscow.

Turkey's role against French interests

Ankara's role, said Macron, threatened the interests of Libya, its neighbours, the entire region and also Europe.

"I have already had the opportunity to say very clearly to President Erdogan, I consider that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya today and going against all of its commitments made at the Berlin conference," Macron said.

Naval incident proof of NATO 'brain death'

Macron also referring to a standoff between France and Turkey off the coast of conflict-torn Libya was proof of the "brain death" of military alliance NATO.

"I refer you to my statements at the end of last year, on the brain death of NATO, I consider this to be one of the best demonstrations (of this)... when we have two NATO members" in a standoff, he said.

France's last week denounced an "extremely aggressive" intervention by Turkish ships against a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean, a claim Ankara dismissed as "groundless".

READ MORE: Turkey rejects French criticism, says Paris exacerbating Libya crisis

Trump-Macron phone-call over Libya

Macron, who spoke earlier on Monday by phone to US President Donald Trump on the crisis in Libya, briefly condemned the role of Russian mercenaries in Libya, but focused mostly on Ankara's role.

The White House said the two leaders agreed on the urgent need for a ceasefire in Libya and for the rapid resumption of negotiations by the Libyan parties. 

Trump and Macron reiterated that military escalation on all sides must stop immediately to prevent the Libyan conflict from becoming even more dangerous and intractable.

On the other side, the head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) met Monday with the prime minister of Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) to discuss an end to hostilities in the war-torn country.

"Under the framework of consultations on the evolution of the situation in Libya, (Prime Minister) Fayez al Sarraj on Monday met with General Stephen Townsend and the US ambassador to Libya Richard Norland," the GNA said in a statement.

The US also issued a statement regarding the meeting calling "a pause in military operations by all parties" in conflict-torn Libya.

The US visit came days after AFRICOM said it had proof of Russian military planes active in Libyan airspace using airbases at Joufra and Sirte east of the capital.

US Ambassador and AFRICOM Commander Stress Need for Military Pause and Return to Negotiations on Visit to Libya U.S....

Posted by U.S. Embassy Libya on Monday, June 22, 2020

Egypt's intervention

When asked about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi suggesting he had a right to intervene in Libya, Macron said the Egyptian leader had reason to be worried.

"You noted the legitimate concern of President Sisi when he sees troops arriving at his border," Macron said. 

Turkish-backed forces are not known to be operating near Egypt's border.

The Libyan government earlier on Sunday dubbed Egyptian president’s military intervention threat as a “declaration of war.”

“The statements of the Egyptian President [Sisi], which are harassing Libya's sovereignty and meddling in its internal affairs, and supporting putschists, militias and mercenaries in Libya are unacceptable,” the government’s press office said in a statement.

READ MORE: UN-backed Libya govt to boycott Arab League talks

Libya's High Council of State on Monday also warned the Egyptian army against a high-stakes military gamble in the conflict-ridden country.

"We urge the Egyptian army not to be dragged into a gamble, whose fate will be similar to previous gambles like the case in Yemen," the Libyan council said in a statement.

Turkey dismisses Sisi's statements 

Egypt's warning that it could intervene directly in neighbouring Libya will not deter Turkey from supporting its Libyan allies, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

"Sisi's statements have no basis," the Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "Turkey and Libya will not turn back from their determination."

"Sisi does not have the power or guts to attempt this," the Turkish official said.

UN says 'last thing' Libya needs is foreign intervention after Egypt threat

The UN said Monday the "last thing" Libya needs is more conflict on its territory, after Egypt warned of military intervention in the neighbouring country.

"It is clear that the last thing Libya needs right now is more fighting, more military mobilisation, more transfer of weapons, more presence of either foreign fighters or mercenaries on its soil," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric during his daily press conference.

"We're alarmed by the continued military mobilisation in central Libya, particularly in Sirte," and by the "flagrant violations of the arms embargo," Dujarric said.

He added it was "important for none of the parties to do anything that would make the situation worse."

READ MORE: Can Egypt’s economy afford a military adventure in Libya?

Italy, Germany, US seek Libya cease-fire after Egypt threat

Italy, Germany and the United States pushed Monday for a ceasefire and de-escalation of tensions in Libya following a warning by Egypt that it would intervene militarily if Libya's GNA forces attack the strategic city of Sirte.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, said after talks in Rome that a ceasefire is urgent given the Egyptian threat. Di Maio also called for the quick naming of a new UN envoy and the strong enforcement of a UN arms embargo on Libya.

“If we stop the arrival of weapons, or strongly reduce them, we will be able to reduce the aggressiveness of the Libyan parties in this conflict,” Di Maio said.

Conflict in Libya

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a Western-backed civil war toppled long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.

The country has since turned into turmoil which led to the emergence of non-centralised powers in the country.

Haftar's militias, made up from regional and Russian mercenaries, launched an offensive to take Tripoli in April last year. 

In March, the Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar to counter attacks on the capital and recently regained strategic locations, including Tarhuna, Haftar's final stronghold in western Libya.

Ankara's intervention in Libya led to a sudden shift in front lines this month as Libya's forces pushed back Haftar's militias and its allies from most of northwest Libya towards the central coastal city of Sirte.

Libya's Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj and warlord Khalifa Haftar have returned to ceasefire talks, but the United Nations, which is brokering their discussions, has warned of a possible major escalation due to the flow of weapons and fighters into Libya despite an arms embargo.

The Libyan army recently inflicted heavy blows on Haftar and liberated Tarhuna, in addition to other strategic locations, including Al Watiya airbase, from his militias.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies