INTERVIEW | Aref Nayed: “Erdogan is Pursuing a Neo-Ottoman Policy of Dominance and Hegemony” – Al Marsad

(Libya, 23 July 2020) – The Chairman of the Ihya Libya movement, Dr Aref Ali Nayed, who was recently made Special Envoy of the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) to the US, UK, EU and the African Union, gave a yesterday a powerful interview to Sputnik News on Turkey’s continued belligerence escalation of threats that undermine all efforts at stability and peace not only in Libya but in the entire Mediterranean. Al Marsad publishes here the extended text of Nayed’s interview.


Sputnik: Do you plan any visits or negotiations with the EU, the US or African nations in the foreseeable future? Are there any meetings with Russian diplomats on your agenda?

 Dr Aref Nayed: I am in daily communication with several European governments, US and UK officials, as well as member states of the African Union, as per my mandate as Special Envoy of the President of the House of Representatives (HoR). I am also facilitating key visits abroad for the President of HoR, as well as visits by diplomats and ministers to His Excellency in his Headquarters. Russian-HoR relations are not part of my remit. However, I am in communication with Russia in my other capacity as National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thini, and as the Head of the political movement Ihya Libya (Reviving Libya).

Sputnik: Multiple counties, including Russia, have backed the so-called Cairo Initiative, yet the GNA and Turkey rejected it. What actions does the HoR plan to further promote this initiative? Are there efforts to persuade the GNA to reconsider it? Are there, maybe, direct discussions or talks through mediators on possible changes to the modalities of a ceasefire and political settlement stipulated by the initiative? 

Dr Aref Nayed: The “Cairo Initiative” is really a revised and consolidated version of the initiative launched by H.E. Aguila Saleh, President of the HoR, at the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan, a few months ago. That initiative itself is the result of wide consultation with the most important tribal elders and social fabric leader in Libya. The Cairo Initiative is a truly pan-Libyan initiative. It offers a solid basis for achieving peace, and restarting a productive Libyan political process. The initiative can lead to the delivery of much-needed services to the public, as well as direct Presidential and Parliamentarian elections soonest.

Dr Aref Ali Nayed, Special Envoy of the Libyan House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, the Government of National Accord (GNA), and especially the Muslim Brotherhood-led State Council, went from a discourse of victimhood about defending the capital Tripoli, to very arrogant discourse about continuing military offensives until Libya’s entire Oil/Gas resources, as well as all Libyan territory are under their control. It is that arrogant stance and their rejection of the Cairo Initiative that is currently leading to a very volatile and dangerous situation.

We have been doing our best to mitigate the rapid slide into further armed conflict, and I am involved in multiple communication channels trying to advocate a peaceful settlement, rather than further war. I am also in touch with several tribal and social fabric efforts, including the councils in Sirte, Bani Walid, and Fezzan.

Sputnik: Last week, the HoR gave permission to the Egyptian forces to intervene in Libya if Cairo deems it necessary in order to respond to imminent threats to its security, and the Egyptian parliament greenlighted possible dispatch of the country’s forces on Monday. Has the Parliament in Tobruk discussed with Egypt any specific modalities of such an intervention? What specific moves or actions by the GNA can fall under the definition of “imminent threat to both nations”? Does the HoR fear that the intervention may turn Libya into battlefield between Cairo and Ankara and further protract the conflict?

Dr Aref Nayed: The prospects of a major conflict between Egypt and Turkey on Libyan territory are no small matter, and are now quite real. The Libyan Parliament and our most respected tribal elders and social fabric leaders went to Egypt and asked for direct Egyptian intervention not because they want war, but because they want peace.

The fact of the matter is Turkey used the illegal invitation (with no Parliamentarian approval) by the GNA in order to do two existentially threatening things: (1) Turkey exported nearly sixteen thousand fighters, many of whom are Qaeda and ISIS members, into Libya. (2) Turkey asserted total hegemony over Libya and its resources in very arrogant announcements and speeches by its Defense Minister and other officials.

The sight of a Turkish Minister speaking only to Turks, with the only the Turkish flag besides him, in the heart of Tripoli, was deeply offensive to all Libyans. He gave his speeches while Fayez al-Sarraj and Fathi Bashagha waited outside the hall! His talk of a 500-year legacy, and of staying  “forever” in Libya, made it painfully clear that we are dealing with a neo-Ottoman full occupation.

That is why Libya’s Parliament and its Social Fabric are all united in seeking direct Egyptian intervention against Turkish occupation. This is of course very dangerous, but Turkish arrogant aggression left us no other choice.

Sputnik: France, Germany and Italy have threatened sanctions over violations of the arms embargo on Libya. What is the parliament’s view on this statement? Do you expect it to have any impact on the situation on the ground?

Dr Aref Nayed: With all due respect, Europe, with the notable exception of Greece, Cyprus and France, is following a failed policy of appeasement towards Erdogan. Appeasement failed in 1939/1940, and it is is failing yet again. A re-reading of the 1940 book Guilty Men is much needed in today’s Europe. Failing to firmly stop a bullying thug is a sure formula for disastrous consequences. From Syria to Libya, from Somalia to Qatar, it is clear for all to see that Erdogan is pursuing a neo-Ottoman policy of dominance and hegemony. He is actually saying in multiple speeches that he is doing exactly that. No amount of European wishful thinking will stop Erdogan. That is why Libya’s Parliament and tribal leaders are calling in Egyptian support.

Dr Aref Ali Nayed

Sputnik: Do you agree with the assumption that European countries are rather divided on the Libyan conflict settlement? To what extent is it affecting the parliament’s negotiations with European stakeholders and the settlement process?

Dr Aref Nayed: What is lacking in Europe is not so much unity, as it is the will to resist Turkish bullying. Greece, Cyprus, and France are about the only three countries rising to the task of resisting Erdogan’s aggressiveness. Through our daily communications, and through the clear messages H.E. Aguila Saleh conveyed during his recent visit to Rome, we are stressing to our European partners that Erdogan’s actions, especially the wholesale export of terrorists to Libya, is as much a danger to Europe as it is to Libya and its neighbors. Only a more determined Europe can help Libya and can help itself.

Sputnik: A US diplomat said last week that the EU was not doing enough to stop arms supplies to Libya and that its naval mission was “one-sided” as it scrutinized only Turkey’s actions. What is the parliament’s take on this mission and such assessment by the US? Have the European countries discussed this mission and potential changes to it with you?

Dr Aref Nayed: Quite frankly, no one has done enough to stop arms supplies to Libya, or to truly implement any of the agreements reached in Skhirat, Paris, Palermo, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, or anywhere else. Multiple countries have Mediterranean fleets, including the Americans, and none of them has done anything to stop Turkey’s naval supply lines. When France did try, it was left alone by all its supposed allies. Turkey continues to relentlessly ship not only arms, but also terrorists, in broad daylight, with total impunity. I have been in discussion with several European countries on how to make this, so far hypothetical, naval mission real and effective. Also, daily Turkish air shipments of terrorists to Libya continue unabated, using civilian airliners and airports, in flagrant violations of international law.

Sputnik: To what extent is the delay in appointment of the UN special envoy affecting peace efforts in and around Libya? Russia has said that it would like to see an African candidate appointed as the envoy. Does the HoR have any specific preferences?

Dr Aref Nayed: The delay in appointing a UN Special Envoy is deeply hurtful to Libya’s prospects for peace and stability. This appointment should be a purely professional and technocratic decision by H.E. the Secretary General himself. Unfortunately, it has become the domain of international politics and intrigues. As Africans, we welcome the appointment of an African expert. We also believe that the African Union should play a bigger role in addressing Libya’s crises. Just as we believe the Arab League and the Arab mutual-defense agreements should be operationalized urgently. Perhaps the decision of the Egyptian Parliament to support Libya’s sovereignty and independence will lead to more Arab and African commitments.


© Al Marsad English (2020)

Source: Sputnik News



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