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News Analysis: Turkey set to review its Libya policy amid abduction spree

ANKARA, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The abduction of two Turkish citizens in Libya amid mass evacuation of Turkish expats over growing threats highlights risks of Turkish foreign policy choices, analysts said.

"Turkey may be seen by some as partisan or favoring one side when it comes to domestic affairs in Libya," Mesut Cevikalp, foreign policy expert based in the Turkish capital Ankara, told Xinhua.

"At least the perception on the ground is like that," he said, emphasizing that time may be overdue to review the Turkish foreign policy.

Two Turkish citizens, who worked for a Turkish construction company, were kidnapped in Libyan capital Tripoli, a Turkish official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity on Friday.

The abduction came after a renegade Libyan general Khalifa Hafter asked for Turks and Qataris to leave the country's east within two days on June 22.

Col. Mohammed Hegazy, spokesperson for the general warned that measures would be taken for those who do not heed attention to the ultimatum.

"Those carrying Turkish or Qatari citizenship must leave the area between the Imsaid crossing (on the Egyptian border) and the city of Sirte (in central Libya) within 48 hours," Col. Mohammed Hegazy said.

"We will not be responsible for any backlash against them from the public if they are still present in these areas after that," he added according to reports.

Turkey and Qatar, the two countries that still support the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that was opposed by Egypt and most of the Gulf Arab countries.

The pro-Islam Turkish government may be regarded as working in close contact with political Islamists in Libya, Cevikalp underlined.

"Perhaps, the threat is to dissuade Ankara from playing favoritism with one side," he noted.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry already issued travel warnings for Libya in May and asked citizens to avoid traveling to Benghazi and Tripoli due to the armed clashes which broke ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Ankara also closed its consulate general in Benghazi earlier this month and started to evacuate hundreds of its citizens residing in risky areas.

"The increased threats against Turks living in Libya require Ankara to work closely with Cairo. Yet there is no working relationship currently in the political level between the two countries," said the Turkish expert Abdullah Bozkurt.

Ankara and Cairo are at odds over the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, former president of Egypt, hailing from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to criticize newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for his role in a coup last year, calling the presidential election invalid.

He also slammed Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who had sent a message of congratulations to the Egyptian president over the election victory.

"It is a shame that Turkey and Egypt, two major regional powers with Sunni populations, are not working together to face common challenges in the region," Bozkurt lamented.

Egypt is concerned about spillover impact from instability in the Eastern Libya. Turkey, which has a lot of investment in Libya politically and economically, also wants to see a stable country.

Yet the Turkish prime minister indirectly accused Egypt in interfering into Libyan affairs on Tuesday during his speech to the European Union ambassadors based in Ankara.

"Egypt is not behaving in Libya either," he told the ambassadors, hinting that Cairo may have a hand in renegade general's threats against Turks and Qataris living in Libya.

"Perhaps time has come to review choices in Turkish foreign policy in the light of latest developments," another Turkish analyst Idris Gursoy said, stressing that threats on the Turkish citizens living abroad have increased significantly.

About 80 Turkish citizens are still held as hostages in Iraqi city Mosul by a militant group called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Ankara said it has been doing everything in its power to secure the release of hostages.

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