By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 June 2014:
Turks and Qataris in eastern Libya – “from Sirte to Musaid” (on the Egyptian border) – . . .[restrict] have been told to leave the country. The stark warning came from General Khalifa Hafter’s spokesman, Mohamed Hejazi. He told the Libya Herald that they had to go “within 48 hours” of the warning.
It expires tomorrow night.
It is not clear if the warning was directed at all Turks and Qataris in the east. Speaking in Benghazi, Hejazi said there were good people in the two communities in the country but accused a number of unnamed individuals in the east of being agents for their governments.
“We captured people from Al-Qaeda in Benghazi and they told us about Turkish intelligence and Qatar intelligence operating from Sirte to Musaid.”
The warning was for them, he said.
When asked what would happen if they did not go, he replied: “After 48 hours you will see”.
There are far more Turks than Qataris in Libya. However, numbers are unknown. In the case of the former, no figures are kept because Turks can travel to Libya without visas. Nonetheless, Turkish officials estimate that there are at least 5,000 living and working in the country, most of them in Tripoli and the west. In the east, there are thought to be about 500.
It is also not clear if the statement has Hafter’s approval although last week he criticised Sudan saying its position on terrorism in Libya was ambiguous.
Qatar has been widely accused in Libya of interfering in Libyan politics and of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists, an accusation it denies.
Turkey denies similar allegations. It points out that it has been at the forefront of trying to help rebuild stability and security in the country by helping train the Libyan police and army — the two institutions that Hafter’s forces say they want established as the only ones dealing with security.
Turkey first started a programme to train some 800 Libyan police two years ago. It later trained another 500 in some 35 different policing techniques, some in Turkey, some in Libya. It has also been training Libyan troops, some 300 so far. It is due to take another 500 for training at Isparta over a 24-week period in the near future. Vetting is expected to start after Ramadan.
Turkey has not given any official response to Hafter’s demands. It had already, last week, closed its consulate in Benghazi, the last one operating in the city, and warned its citizens not to travel to Libya, especially Benghazi, unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Expect more power cuts if the Turks leave”, was the response of one Turkish businessman in Tripoli pointing out that the new Gulf Power Station in Sirte is being built by Turks.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a “terrorist” organisation by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Allegations that Hafter is being supported by Egypt have not been confirmed. [/restrict]