Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar has called on all Libyans to take up arms in response to a prospective military intervention from Turkey aimed at shoring up the UN-backed government in Tripoli, reports BSS/AFP. The beleaguered Tripoli government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has been under sustained attack since April by Haftar, who heads a rival administration in the east backed by Turkey’s regional rivals — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkey’s parliament on Thursday approved the deployment of troops to Libya after it received a request for military support from Sarraj’s elected government. ‘We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms,’ said Haftar in a televised address on Friday. He urged ‘all Libyans’ to bear arms, ‘men and women, soldiers and civilians, to defend our land and our honour’. He said it was no longer a question of liberating Tripoli from the militias, but of ‘facing a coloniser’, accusing Ankara of wanting to ‘regain control of Libya’, a former province of the Ottoman Empire. Libya has been beset by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.