Thursday, January 2, 2020 8:29 pm
Turkey’s Parliament on Thursday authorised military invention in Libya by voting in favour of a one-year mandate to deploy troops in the midst of an escalating civil war.
The mandate passed by 325 votes in favour and 184 against.
It was expected to be approved easily because President Recep Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have a parliamentary majority.
An emergency session was called to discuss the motion, which will allow the government to decide on the timing and scope of any deployment and the number of armed forces to be sent.
Parliament has approved similar mandates in the past. On Oct. 8, it renewed a motion to dispatch soldiers to Syria and Iraq for a year. However, it launched an incursion into North-Eastern Syria the following day.
Erdogan said Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which Turkey supports, requested that Ankara send its troops, without given a timeline for the deployment.
In November, Turkey and the GNA signed two controversial agreements on military and security cooperation and maritime borders, with the former providing for the training of military personnel and logistical support.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally recognized government had been battling for power in Libya against a rival administration based in the East, led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
However, in April, Haftar’s forces launched an offensive to seize Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
Earlier, Vice President Fuat Oktay, said that Turkey was considering not sending soldiers to Libya, even after the motion was approved, if Haftar’s forces stopped their offensive.
According to the motion, Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), had been threatening to target Turkish nationals and businesses in Libya and Turkish ships off the country’s coast.
The mandate noted that the civil war also threatened Turkey’s interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Haftar’s forces are backed by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Istanbul on Jan. 8. Russia and Turkey are already at loggerheads in North-Western Syria.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the conservative Iyi (Good) Party voted against the motion.
CHP lawmaker, Unal Cevikoz, told parliament that it was a call for disaster, adding that, “this is a war mandate to send Turkish soldiers to fight in Libya rather than a mandate for humanitarian support.“
He, however, suggested a UN peacekeeping force for Libya instead.
The AKP parliamentarian, Ismet Yilmaz, said Turkey cannot be expected to sit back while Libya appeals for help.
According to the resolution to dispatch the Turkish Armed Forces, the president will decide on the limit, extent, quantity and timing, to conduct, if necessary, military operations and intervention.
The Deputy Aytun Ciray, said, “We are sending our children to become martyrs in the Libyan desert, adding that Turkey should not take side with any warring faction in Libya.
Ciray added that Turkey does not need to get involved in new conflicts in the region, as the mandate risks putting Turkish soldiers in “a Vietnam-like situation” in Libya.
HDP lawmaker, Tulay Oruc, however, said that parliament should not allow “jihadist fighter tourism” in Libya, about allegations that the government had been sending allied Syrian rebels to the Libyan front. (dpa/NAN)