Turkey parliament approves Libya military deployment

Turkey parliament approves Libya military deployment
A member of the Libyan GNA forces fires during a fight with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 03 January 2020

Turkey parliament approves Libya military deployment

Turkey parliament approves Libya military deployment
  • Egypt condemned Turkey's decision to allow troop deployment to Libya
  • Trump discussed the situation in Libya with Erdogan in a phone call on Thursday

ANKARA: In an extraordinary session on Thursday, Turkey’s Parliament approved a motion to deploy troops to Libya to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). 

The exact structure and timing of the deployment is yet to be determined.

Of the 509 MPs who voted, 325 were in favor of the motion. All opposition MPs voted against the bill, but could not outweigh the majority enjoyed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

But many in Turkey are wary of the dangers that could arise from Turkey’s military involvement in Libya’s ongoing civil war. 

Burak Bilgehan Ozpek, a political scientist from TOBB University in Ankara, believes Turkey is taking a big risk, considering that several regionally important countries — including Russia, Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan — are backing the Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar against the GNA.

“Being involved in a civil conflict in an overseas country is totally against Turkey’s national interests,” Ozpek told Arab News. “There will be logistical challenges, diplomatic limitations and security threats for Turkish troops.”

Ozpek believes Turkey should try to resolve its foreign-policy challenges through diplomacy and dialogue rather than military action. 

“Ankara should have established contact with Egypt, Israel and Greece to facilitate dialogue over the delimitation of maritime zones,” he said. 

“It would be a mistake to send Syrian fighters to that zone as they don’t (answer) to the state hierarchy and it will be Turkey who will be held accountable for their wrongdoings.” 

Speaking before the vote, the deputy leader of Turkey’s opposition IYI Party, Aytun Ciray, said, “Our soldiers may get involved in a Vietnam-like civil war. We can’t let our soldiers become a part of a civil war that’s unconnected to our national security.

Here's a clip of the session where the deployment was approved:

He went on to warn: “Turkey will become an object of hate in the Arab world.” 

CHP lawmaker Unal Cevikoz also criticized the motion, saying that “sons of this nation” must not be deployed to “Libyan deserts.”

“Wars are murders if (our nation) is not in danger,” he said.

US President Donald Trump warned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan against any “foreign interference” in Libya, the White House said.

In a telephone call, Trump “pointed out that foreign interference is complicating the situation in Libya,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

Condemning the vote, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said any such deployment could “negatively affect the stability of the Mediterranean region” and called on the international community to urgently respond to the move.