Libya: Turkish troop presence threat to ceasefire

Libya's eastern warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive last year to capture the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, threatened Dec. 24 to launch attacks on Turkish forces if Ankara doesn't withdraw troops and mercenaries sent in to back up the GNA. The ultimatum is a theat to the ceasefire that has largely held since it was signed in October. Haftar's comments came in response to the Turkish Parliament's move to extend for 18 months a law that allows the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya. "There will be no security or peace as long as the boots of the Turkish military are desecrating our immaculate soil," Haftar said in comments from his eastern stronghold of Benghazi on the 69th anniversary of Libya's independence. "We will carry weapons to bring about peace with our own hands and our free will."

The Turkish defense minister responded that any attack by Haftar on Ankara's personnel would be met with force. "A war criminal, murderer Haftar and his supporters must know that they will be seen as a legitimate target in case of any attack on Turkish forces," Hulusi Akar said in an address to Turkish units in Tripoli.

Senior Egyptian security officials visited Tripoli for the first time since 2014 on Dec. 27 to discuss the situation with the GNA leadership. While the GNA is backed by Turkey, Haftar and his self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) are backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. (Daily Sabah, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera)

Libyan parliament approves interim government

The Libyan parliament validated March 10 an interim government mandated to reunite the fractured country and oversee elections in December under an UN-backed peace plan. Abdulhamid Dbeibah, a billionaire businessman, was selected as an interim prime minister at a forum held by the United Nations in Geneva last month. Dbeibah submitted his 33-member cabinet program to parliament for approval last week without publicly revealing any names. The cabinet was approved by 132 votes to two against. The parliament session was held in Sirte, where the front lines stabilized last summer after the GNA pushed Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based Libyan National Army back from Tripoli. (Jurist)

Libyan commander wanted by ICC assassinated in Benghazi

A notorious commander from Libyan rebel leader Khalifa Haftar's force was assassinated on March 24 in Benghazi. Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a commander from the self-styled Libyan National Army's elite Sa'iqa (Thunderbolt) forces, was gunned down by unknown assailants as he was driving through a main street in the eastern city. (The New Arab)