Turkey's parliament to vote on sending troops to Libya

Turkey's parliament to vote on sending troops to Libya
3 min read
02 January, 2020
Turkey's parliament is set to vote on sending troops to Libya, which could increase Tripoli's influence in the country.
Erdogan sent a motion to parliament last week to approve a military deployment [Getty]
Turkey's parliament will vote on whether to send Turkish troops to Libya in a forthcoming intervention that could give Ankara a strategic advantage in the Libyan conflict.

The vote will take place later on Thursday.

Last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a motion to parliament to approve a military deployment in support of the UN-backed government.

The Turkish lawmakers are expected to approve the motion at the emergency session called for later in the day and grant a one-year mandate for the deployment, despite concerns that Turkish forces could aggravate Libya's conflict further and destabilise the region.

The Tripoli-based government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival east-based government and commander Gen. Khalifa Hafter.

The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violence rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Sarraj requested the Turkish deployment, after he and Sarraj signed a military deal that allows Ankara to dispatch military experts and personnel to Libya.

That deal, along with a separate agreement on maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya, has drawn ire across the region and beyond.

Details of the possible Turkish deployment have not been revealed, and the motion to be debated in parliament allows the government to decide on the scope, amount and timing of the deployment.

Ankara says the deployment is vital for Turkey to safeguard its interests in Libya and in the eastern Mediterranean, where it finds itself increasingly isolated as Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have established exclusive economic zones paving the way for oil and gas exploration.

Turkey's main opposition party has made clear it will vote against the motion, saying it would embroil Turkey in another conflict and make it a party to the "shedding of Muslims' blood." It has called on Erdogan's government to search for a diplomatic solution in Libya instead.

However, Erdogan's ruling party is in an alliance with a nationalist party and the two hold sufficient votes for the motion to pass.

The fighting around Tripoli escalated in recent weeks after Hafter declared a "final" and decisive battle for the capital.

He has the backing of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech as he attends the Symposium on Urban Security [Getty] 

Escalation warning

Turkey's intervention in Libya has been met with concern from human rights groups, and the UN's Libya envoy said Monday that military and maritime agreements signed between Turkey and the Tripoli government represent an "escalation" of the conflict in the North African country.

Ghassan Salame's remarks came as Egypt called for an urgent meeting Tuesday of the Cairo-based Arab League to discuss "developments in Libya and the possibility of an escalation" there.

Libya has been mired in conflict since an uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

In April, military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the east, launched an assault to seize the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

In November, Ankara signed a security and military cooperation deal with the GNA and also inked a maritime jurisdiction agreement with the Tripoli government.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde, the UN envoy said the agreements signed between Ankara and the GNA represent "a clear escalation of the conflict" in Libya.

He also deplored what he called the "internationalisation of the conflict", which has deepened further this year, drawing in a plethora of external forces and powers.

"We have seen mercenaries from several nationalities, including Russians, arrive (in Libya) to support Haftar's forces in Tripoli," he said.

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