- "We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens" on January 7, Erdogan said.
- Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar has support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia.
- It is not exactly clear what the Turkish military assistance will consist of.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Thursday that the country’s national Parliament would vote in January to allow troops to be sent to Libya. Turkey is backing the interim government of the Libyan National Agreement (GAN), against the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Russia and Egypt.
‘We will go to places where we are invited to, and not go to places we are not invited to. At the moment, since there is such an invitation, we will accept this invitation,” said Erdogan during a meeting of his party, the conservative, Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), that was broadcasted live. “We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens” on January 7, he added. Thus, “we can respond favorably to the call for military aid from the legitimate Libyan government.”
Erdogan stressed that Turkey would “support by all means the Tripoli government, which resists a coup being backed by the Arab and European countries,” in reference to the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. Haftar has support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. The United Nations (UN) considers that both the general and the government of Tripoli are receiving shipments of arms that violate the existing embargo.
The Turkish Parliament last Saturday approved a military and security cooperation agreement, signed with GAN on November 27, during a visit to Istanbul by Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. The pact allows both parties to send each other military and police personnel on training missions, Turkish sources said. Like Qatar, Turkey is one of the few countries that actively supports GAN. In order to obtain authorization to deploy combat forces in Libya, Ankara must approve in Parliament a different mandate, as happens every year for the deployment of military personnel to Iraq and Syria.
Since the AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), hold a majority in Parliament, approving a military charge would be a formality, although the opposition has criticized the president’s foreign policy. Erdogan will also address Libya’s situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting scheduled for January 8 in Ankara.
The Haftar forces have been trying for months to take over the Libyan capital, a move that most probably informed President Erdogan’s Thursday announcement that he would prevail upon Parliament to approve the sending of troops to Libya to sustain Prime Minister Fayez el-Serraj’s government. Haftar indicated earlier this month that his troops are preparing to take over Tripoli. In addition to his support from Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and some other Arab countries, mercenaries from Sudan and Chad have also strengthened his army.
Turkey has been supporting the government of Prime Minister el-Serraj for some time with arms deliveries, despite a UN arms embargo against Libya. This mainly concerns Turkish-made drones, but they have recently had to cope with the anti-aircraft guns available to Haftar. It is not exactly clear what the Turkish military assistance will consist of. If Turkey controls warplanes, that will change the situation on the battlefield. But presumably, Ankara is currently limited to sending commands, military advisers, and liaison troops.