The Turkish Parliament has approved legislation authorizing the deployment of Turkish troops into Libya to support the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA, against Russian mercenary-backed rebels in the east who control large swaths of the country, lead by General Khalifa Haftar. Turkey also may begin training Libyan troops inside Turkey, in addition to deploying allied Syrian forces to Libya reported Reuters.
Sentop said the legislation passed with an 325-184 vote in the parliament, where President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its nationalist allies hold a majority. All major opposition parties in the assembly voted against the bill, reported The Moscow Times.
On Wednesday, Vice President Fuat Oktay said the bill served a symbolic role that Ankara hoped would be a “deterrent” to the parties, and that Turkey may not send troops if Haftar’s forces halted their offensive and pulled back.
“The deployment will likely start with military advisers, increased (drones), and special operations that would work with the Libyan military,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who is chairman of the think-tank Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “The hope would be that the Turkish military may not itself be involved in military action,” he said.
Ankara may first send military instructors to train the fighters of the Libyan Government of National Accord. Besides, Turkey may consider providing Tripoli with the Hisar and Korkut missile systems, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
On December 12, Haftar announced the launch of a crucial offensive aimed at taking control of the country’s capital. The LNA has repeatedly stated that it would oppose any foreign interference in Libya’s domestic affairs and threatened to sink ships and shoot down cargo aircraft carrying military aid from Turkey, wrote TASS.