By Samer Al-Atrush
Efforts to end Libya’s war face another hurdle after its internationally recognized government signed a preliminary maritime agreement with Turkey, angering neighboring states that see it as a brazen Turkish bid for dominance over gas-rich Mediterranean waters.
Ghassan Salame, the United Nations envoy to OPEC member Libya, said the recriminations sparked by the accord finalized in Istanbul last week risked complicating a Dec. 10 gathering in Berlin of parties to the conflict that was supposed to pave the way for a full peace summit in early January.
While Greece and Egypt are especially outraged, sustained mediation could help resolve differences, Salame said by phone. “But if the opposite happens, I would certainly be more fearful for the presence of everybody in Berlin,” he said.
In Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out opening the deal to discussion, seeing any attempt to do so as an encroachment on his country’s sovereign rights.
The UN is urgently pushing for a peace deal in Libya after fighting for control of the capital, Tripoli, intensified as Russian mercenary forces entered the war on behalf of eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar. The Russian deployment has deepened fears of an expanding proxy conflict in a country where instability has enabled human traffickers and Islamist militants to put down roots.