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Turkey's Libya policy in shambles as ship attacked in Mediterranean.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- In another sign of Turkey's faulty foreign policies in the region, Libya's internationally recognized government forces shelled a Turkish cargo ship off the Libyan coast in international waters on Sunday, after warning the ship not to approach the eastern city of Derna, killing one crew member in the attack in which Turkey described as "heinous."

The Libyan government's military spokesman, Mohamed Hejazi, told Reuters that the dry cargo ship was targeted about 10 miles from the coast on Sunday after it was told not to approach the city of Derna, which is under the control of the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Turkish Foreign Ministry made a statement on Monday saying the vessel was shelled when it was approaching the nearby port of Tobruk and was then attacked from the air as it tried to leave the area. The Libyan military had previously said they would attack any ships approaching Derna to stop supplies getting to ISIL militants in the city.

"We strongly denounce this heinous attack towards a civilian ship in international waters and we condemn those who carried out the attack," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also said that Ankara had protested the Libyan authorities over the incident.

The third officer on the Cook Islands-chartered Tuna-1 cargo ship, ylker BE-yE-kdere, was killed and other crew members were wounded, according to local reports.

The ministry said the cargo ship was carrying plasterboard from Spain to Tobruk and was 21 kilometers (13 miles) away from its destination when it was attacked.

Libyan military spokesperson Hejazi also confirmed that one crew member was killed in the attack and one other person was wounded.

Despite a Libyan military source saying the vessel was on fire and was to be towed into Tobruk, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official denied this, saying the vessel was to return to Turkey.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister MevlE-t EcavuE-oy-lu also said a diplomatic note condemning the incident was sent to the Libyan government.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry, calling for a swift investigation to bring those responsible for the attack to account, has said the brazen incident aims to stop ongoing international efforts designed to settle the political division of the country. Turkey has said the ship was sailing in international waters.

"Turkey has approached the United Nations and the IMO [International Maritime Organization] in connection with the matter. A note was sent to Libya's embassy in Ankara and its ystanbul consulate seeking an explanation," a Turkish official said.

Turkey has been following a foreign policy in Libya that leaves many in the international community puzzled, with its support last year for Libya's self-declared Prime Minister Omar al-Hasi's administration -- an extension of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the region.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an's special envoy to Libya, Emrullah yE-ler, met with the Hasi administration in October. The meeting with yE-ler was Hasi's first publicly known diplomatic meeting with a foreign representative and it has surprised the international community. Turkey insists that its approach to Libya is no different from that of the UN, which only recognizes the Abdullah al-Thani government.

Turkey supports a more representative, national government in Libya that includes all segments of society based on dialogue and Turkey is ready to meet both sides in Libya, a Turkish Foreign Ministry source told Today's Zaman back in October.

yE-ler also paid another visit to Libya to meet with the internationally recognized al-Thani government in November. Turkey has close ties with Libya, which has been divided among armed groups since the fall of Muammer Gaddafi in 2011.

It is believed there are few Turks left in Libya following the Turkish government's previous warnings to evacuate the country due to security problems. However, a number of Turks own restaurants and shops there.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Adana deputy Faruk Loy-oy-lu, a veteran diplomat, has condemned the Libyan attack on a civilian Turkish cargo ship in international waters, saying the attack is against international law and inhumane.

Speaking to Today's Zaman on Monday, Loy-oy-lu added that it's important to understand the background of the incident and criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party's) foreign policy in Libya.

He said that the AK Party clearly has been supporting one side in Libya and the Turkish government is responsible for the current unstable situation in Libya. "The AK Party has helped the deepening of the division in Libya and they jeopardized the security of our people living there and their business," said Loy-oy-lu.

"In any case, nothing will justify this horrible attack. I condemn it," he added.

Speaking to Today's Zaman, Sinan E[pounds sterling]lgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the ystanbul-based think tank Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), also stressed the attack on the Turkish cargo ship cannot be acceptable.

E[pounds sterling]lgen said the Libyan government's attack on the Turkish cargo ship is an important sign that the internationally recognized government's legitimacy is under serious erosion. "Any responsible government would not have attacked a civilian cargo ship in international waters, especially when there is no conflict between the two governments," said E[pounds sterling]lgen.

E[pounds sterling]lgen said the attack shows the Libyan government doesn't recognize the international law and is losing its legitimacy.(Cihan/Today's Zaman)


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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:May 11, 2015
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