News / Europe

Turkey Backing Libyan Opposition

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks to Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board of the Libyan National Transitional Congress Ali al-Issawi (L) before a news conference after their meeting in the rebel-held Benghazi, Libya, July 3, 2011
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks to Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board of the Libyan National Transitional Congress Ali al-Issawi (L) before a news conference after their meeting in the rebel-held Benghazi, Libya, July 3, 2011
Dorian Jones

Marking a shift in its position, Turkey is putting its full weight behind the Libyan opposition, promising $200 million and calling for Libyan government leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi to go. A leader of the Libyan opposition is due to hold talks Wednesday in Ankara.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country has given its unequivocal support to the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. During a visit Sunday to Benghazi, the Turkish diplomat declared the Libyan opposition is the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and that Gadhafi should go.

Turkey had close ties with Gadhafi and was one of few counties arguing he could still play a role in resolving the Libyan conflict. Senior Turkish diplomat Selim Yenel said the shift in policy was not taken lightly.  

"We have been very cautious in our approach, we tried to keep a dialogue with both sides, although we were criticized for this," said Yenel.  "But in the end we saw that dialogue with Gadhafi became impossible. And we saw that the people in Benghazi were acting more and more responsible. So in the end we came up to finally accept this reality. And realize that the representation by the people in Benghazi."

Ankara is backing up its words of support to the Libyan opposition with $200 million, in addition to the $100 million it already has given.  Turkish officials say the funds are to help meet the day-to-day needs of the opposition.  

Ankara's strong support for the Libyan opposition brings it in line with its Western allies, according to Turkish diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz. He said until now Turkey was following a more independent policy toward the region.

"The 'proactive' in Turkish foreign policy to the region is over," said Idiz. "Now we [are] in the stage of reaction, in other words, reacting to the emerging situation. I do not think Turkey can be a shaper and framer of processes on its own, and we see much more cooperation or more parallels between Turkey's position and Washington position."

The opposition leader responsible for foreign affairs for the Transitional National Council, Mahmud Jibril, is to hold talks with the Turkish and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers Wednesday in Ankara.

Carnegie Institute scholar Sinan Ulgen, who heads the Turkish foreign affairs research organization Edam, said now that Turkey is in line with its Western allies it can play an effective role.

"As a Muslim country and a member of NATO, Turkey will have a significant role to play," said Ulgen. "And already contributing not an insignificant amount of resources to the Libyan opposition, Turkey has demonstrated its willingness to remain engaged and to help the fate of the Libyan [people]. So yes, going forward Turkey will remain one of most instrumental actors within the West."

The upcoming talks are expected to include the opening of an opposition office in Turkey and preparations for a meeting of the so-called International Contact Group on Libya on July 15 and 16 in Istanbul. That meeting will focus on a post-Gadhafi Libya, in which Turkey has its own economic interests, according to Yenel.

"We are all thinking about what will happen after Gadhafi leaves power, how things could develop, so all issues will be on the table," said Yenel. "The economic consideration - interest and trade deals - will come next, it's not a primary concern, but it's a concern definitely.  Because we had about 25,000 workers [in Libya], eventually we hope they will go back, but it is a second consideration."

Observers say the reluctance of Ankara to completely sever ties was in part driven by the multi-billion-dollar contracts it has with the Libyan government. But now that Ankara has thrown its weight behind the Libya opposition, Turkey's banking authorities on Monday seized control of the Libyan-Turkish bank A&T in line with U.N. sanctions.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs