Defying 5+5 Agreement, Namroush Signs Security Agreement with Qatar, Turkey and Now With Italy – Al Marsad

After the agreements he signed recently with Turkey and Qatar soon after the 5+5 military agreement which stipulated against such bilateral security and military deals, the pro-Turkey Minister of Defense of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Salah al-Din al-Namroush, visited Italy and signed agreements with Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini.

(Libya, 5 December 2020) – According to the media office of the GNA’s Ministry of Defense, the meeting addressed the development of mechanisms to activate cooperation between the two ministries in various sectors of the military establishment, including land, sea, air defence, and border guards, in what appeared to be an Italian violation of the 5+5 agreement added to those of Turkey before.

The media office indicated, “Based on the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership, and Cooperation concluded in Benghazi on 30 August 2008, the Tripoli Declaration on 21 January 2012, the memoranda and joint meetings held and concluded by the two parties, and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Libyan and Italian Ministers of Defense in Rome on 28 May 2012, the defence ministries of the two countries agreed to establish a joint committee for military cooperation in various fields of defence, whose members would represent all sectors of armed forces in both countries.”

GNA’s Defence Minister Salah al-Din al-Namrush signing agreement with Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini.

The visit also included the signing of a joint military-technical cooperation agreement between the two ministries that covers “training, technical information, support, development, maintenance, consultations, and exchange of experiences in the field of illegal immigration, land, sea, and air border security, anti-drug and anti-smuggling operations, disposal of ammunition and mines, and relief operations in cases of natural disasters and health emergencies.”

In this way, the agreement adds to several controversial illegal immigration agreements concluded by Fayez al-Sarraj’s expired government in recent years, which considers Libya a source rather than a transit country for migration.

The agreement also stipulated “participation in military exercises and joint manoeuvres, conducting short-term training and visits to airports and ports to support and cooperate in structuring and organizing military and civil institutions and their legal systems, building and equipping military and civilian units, managing and training personnel, including cooperation in the field of military medicine by rehabilitating medical and auxiliary medical personnel and supplying devices and equipment.”

Salah al-Din al-Namroush.

In a related context, al-Namroush discussed with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in the headquarters of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ways to deepen the “bilateral friendship and cooperation between the Libyan and Italian peoples”.

Neither of them revealed the details and content of the signed agreements.

The meeting touched upon the latest developments in the situation in Libya, as well as the importance of activating constructive and fruitful cooperation to support the security and stability of the two countries.

ANTI-TERRORISM COOPERATION WITH QATAR

The agreement signed with Italy follows quickly on similar agreements signed by Namroush with Qatar and Turkey last month, all in clear breach of the stipulations agreed at the GNA-LNA 5+5 Military Track which was praised by the United Nations and the international community as key progress.

However, GNA’s Defence Minister seems to have completely ignored what GNA military delegation agreed to at the 5+5 track, and instead accelerated security, training and defence agreements with belligerents in the Libyan conflict: Qatar and Turkey.

As a result on 12 November Namroush signed a cooperation protocol Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid al-Attiya for training and building capabilities as well as exchange of expertise  between the GNA and Qatar.

Media reports also said that Namroush was given a tour inside the joint special forces and saw the training programs of Qatari special forces in anti-terrorism and other fields. Training programmes on anti-terrorism seems to be particularly baffling given Qatari government’s close affiliation with Islamist groups allied to terrorist networks in Libya.

TURKEY WILL CONTINUE TO TRAIN LIBYAN FORCES

Namroush’s next stop right after Doha was Ankara where he met Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Aka on 14 November.

According to Turkey’s state media, Akar said, “Turkey’s goal is to contribute to the formation of a Libya that has ensured its territorial integrity and political unity, and lives in peace, tranquility and stability,” he said.

He confirmed his commitment to keep up consultations with Libya and continue military and security training for Libyan forces. “Turkey supports Libya’s stability, independence, and sovereignty,” he said.

Interestingly, since the visit to Ankara by Namroush, Turkey has increased its deployments in Libya, specially during the last few days. Yesterday, for example, there were almost 6 military cargo flights from Turkish air bases to al-Watiya air base.

Many independent monitors have noticed a seriously increase in Turkish activities and according to the Syrian Observatory for Human RIghts  (SOHR) Turkey was preparing to send further batches of Syrian mercenaries to Libya.

Erdogan has so far been against the 5+5 military track agreement between the GNA and LNA military, and which calls for the removal of all outside forces and mercenaries from Libyan soil. Given its implications to Turkish military presence in Libya, some commentators believe that Turkey is likely to sabotage the 5+5 agreement and push ahead with further military aggression.

Last week, UNSMIL’s Stephanie Williams had warned the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) that there were over 20,000 mercenaries in Libya, which would mean that the majority of those are Syrian mercenaries sent over by Turkey. UNSMIL has yet to issue any warning to Turkey on the escalation of military cargo flights to al-Watiya.

VISIT BY THE EU

After his return Tripoli from Ankara, the GNA Defence Minister met with the the Head of EU Mission in Libya Ambassador Jose Antonio Sabadell, and accompanied by the Commander of IRINI Operation Admiral Fabio Agostini on 17 November. According to a post by Sabadell said that they had a “very frank discussion” with Namroush, and that the delegation stressed that the 5+5 Military Tract, or the Joint Military Commission, was a “solid basis to build peace, good model for political dialogue.”

He said the Libyan Defense Ministry was prepared to cooperate with the EU on the basis of mutual confidence and transparency and respect on national sovereignty, and that unless Irini was a comprehensive operation that involves all ground, air and marine borders nothing would be changed.

At the meeting Admiral Fabio Agostini gave an overview of Operation IRINI launched by the European Union and its objectives, stressing that the operation is carried out impartially and in the interest of all Libyans. Namroush, however, insisted that Operation IRINI was biased but hope that GNA and EU cooperation would turn a new page.

Since the standoff between Operation IRINI’s German frigate and a Turkish cargo vessel off the coast of Libya, which led to diplomatic pressure being exerted by Turkey against the EU, Libyan media revealed that Turkish warships had been detected near the Gulf of Sirte. Satellites had spotted 6 naval frigates carrying the Turkish flag off the coast of Libya, at the Sirte Oil Crescent.

© AlMarsad English (2020)

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