Turkish parliament approves troop deployment to Libya

In a measure with regionwide implications, the Turkish parliament approved a motion Jan. 2 to deploy forces to Libya during an extraordinary meeting before the start of its 2020 legislative session next week.

Though details remain unclear on the involvement of Turkish troops in direct combat operations, the vote established a one-year mandate for Turkish forces to transfer weapons, planes and vehicles in support of the UN-recognized Tripoli government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Turkish units will also help establish elite Libyan forces, exchange counterterrorism intelligence and play a larger strategic role through operational cooperation and joint exercises with Sarraj’s Government of National Accord forces amid an ongoing offensive on Tripoli led by eastern Libya commander Khalifa Hifter.

The news comes one week after Sarraj submitted a formal request for Turkish military support, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in December was the prerequisite for a troop deployment.

While Turkish drones and proxies have been increasingly active in Libya over the past year, the parliamentary vote, passed 325-184 with 80 abstentions, is expected to complicate a civil war and escalate tensions between regional actors who back opposing sides in the conflict.

“This is a repeat of the mistake that the governing party in Turkey made in Syria,” Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to the United States, told Al-Monitor. “They are going to repeat the same mistake on perhaps a less controllable scale in Libya.”

He added, “It’s wrong. It will not serve the benefit of the Libyan people, nor will it serve the interests of the Turkish Republic. I think it will only serve to prolong, deepen and widen the conflict in Libya.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor.