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February 25, 2021
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Turkey plans to send troops to Libya early January

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated Turkey’s willingness to send troops to support the GNA if UN-recognised government requests it [Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency]

 

Turkish PM to seek his parliament’s support in January following Tripoli-based govt’s request for military backing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced military backing for Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), now that the north African country requested it.

In a speech in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said that he will on January 7 present a bill to the Turkish parliament on deployment legislation.

“We will present the motion to send troops [to Libya] as soon as parliament resumes,” Erdogan said.

“God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation” from the Tripoli-based GNA, he said.

Last month, Turkish and Libyan officials, led by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, signed a memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation.

The GNA’s cabinet of ministers and Turkish legislators have since ratified the deal, but a separate motion is needed to send troops.

Thursday’s announcement came a day after Erdogan met with his Tunisian counterpart, Kais Saied, during a surprise visit to the Tunisian capital to discuss developments in neighbouring Libya .

Erdogan told reporters in Tunis that the two leaders discussed ways to establish a ceasefire and bring warring factions back to the negotiating table.

Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s willingness to send troops to support the GNA, saying Ankara would do so at the Libyan government’s request.

Rival administrations

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The country has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014, with the GNA, currently controlling Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, and a parallel administration holding the east of the oil-rich country, supported by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar‘s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Since early April, Haftar has waged a military campaign against the GNA, which he accuses of harbouring “terrorist elements”.

Turkey and Qatar support the GNA, while Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France, support Haftar.

Moscow last month denied reports in the New York Times that it had sent had mercenaries to fight on Haftar’s side, while the UN has also accused the strongman’s forces of recruiting fighters from Sudan.

“They are helping a warlord. We are responding to an invitation from the legitimate government of Libya,” Erdogan said Thursday. “That is our difference.”

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