JEDDAH: Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called for an “immediate” end to the country’s military spending and armed presence in Libya and Syria.
Party officials on Monday demanded a probe into the full cost of Turkey’s involvement in the Libyan conflict and are urging the government to concentrate its focus on dealing with mounting national debt and unemployment crises at home amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Tulay Hatimogullari, the HDP’s lawmaker from the southern province of Adana, submitted a parliamentary inquiry to Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu questioning the financial impact of Turkey’s military campaign in Libya on the national budget.
She said: “The ongoing war in Libya negatively affects people in Turkey as well. All Turkish citizens have to bear the cost of war policy that is pursued in Libya.
“Instead of spending this money for developing policies related to health, education, child, disabled, women and refugee rights, such expenses for conducting overseas war are actually the result of a conscious choice.”
Hatimogullari criticized the Turkish government for not focusing on the country’s rising debts and jobless rates which had been compounded by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The presence of the Turkish army in Libya and Syria should be stopped immediately and the government should halt all overseas military expenditures to reallocate them to the immediate needs of its own citizens,” she added.
The lawmaker asked for the total amount of Turkey’s military expenditure in Libya to be revealed including money allocated to the Government of National Accord and local groups collaborating with it.
The HDP has also inquired about the costs of air defense systems, weapons, and ammunition transported to Libya from Turkey, along with the budgetary resources allocated to Syrian mercenaries.
Hatimogullari asked which budget the Turkish government was using “to pay the salaries of about 10,000 Syrian mercenaries who are deployed to Libya?”
Turkey has been accused of sending military supplies and sponsoring Syrian fighters in the war-torn north African country. The mercenaries are reportedly being paid $2,000 a month in cash, although the Turkish government has not made any official statement on the figures.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted for the first time in February that his government had sent Syrian mercenaries to Libya. “Turkey is there with a training force. There are also people from the Syrian National Army,” he told media in Istanbul.
Turkey-backed factions in Libya have also been accused of recruiting Syrian child soldiers into their ranks.