Frailty of Libya Accord on Display In Merkel-Erdogan Squabble

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted a five-day-old agreement to halt fighting in Libya as he squabbled with Chancellor Angela Merkel in public over the viability of the accord.

One of the two main Libyan combatants, Khalifa Haftar has failed to commit to a truce and should be shunned by leaders who gathered in Berlin last Sunday to work toward a more durable cease-fire in the North African country’s civil war, Erdogan said.

Frailty of Libya Accord on Display In Merkel-Erdogan Squabble

“It’s hard to understand how some countries recognize Haftar,” the Turkish leader told journalists in Istanbul on Friday alongside Merkel, who came for talks.

The frailty of the Berlin commitment was also on display as the two leaders bickered over Haftar’s refusal to officially sign an ceasefire agreement.

Merkel acknowledged there had been “individual” violations of the truce in recent days, but said violence overall “has significantly dropped.”

Erdogan chimed in, saying Haftar hadn’t signed anything, but only verbally accepted a truce, which isn’t “full acceptance.” Merkel rebutted, citing the verbal commitment and an agreement to put forward five names for a committee to hash out the terms of a more permanent cease-fire.

“Madame Chancellor, it’s accepted but not signed, I want to make that clear,” Erdogan responded.

“I think we misunderstand each other a bit,” Merkel said, agreeing that there was no signing. “You’re right.”

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The parrying between the two leaders illustrates the difficulty of resolving the proxy war, which has seen Turkey and Russia back opposing parties in the struggle and outside nations squabble over energy interests. The Libya conflict has raged for years, killing thousands and disrupting the country’s oil output.

Haftar, who has led a months-long march on the capital Tripoli, and Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, backed by Erdogan, variously agreed to a truce and pledged to put forward names to secure a more lasting cease-fire.“We won’t leave Sarraj alone,” Erdogan said.

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