Turkey to Send Troops to Libya Following Military and Economic Pact

Erdogan recently signed a deal with Tripoli, criticizing Russia and some European and Arab countries for supporting 'warlord' Khalifa Haftar

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Fayez al Sarraj, the head of Libya's internationally recognized government, prior to their talks in Istanbul, Sunday, December 15, 2019.
,AP

Turkey will deploy troops to Libya upon the invitation of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

A bill for deployment will be sent to parliament when it opens next month, he added. "Since now there is an invitation [from Libya], we will accept it," Erdogan told his ruling AKP party members in Ankara.
"God willing, we will pass in our parliament this [deployment bill] on January 8 and 9."

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Turkey signed a military cooperation deal along with a maritime boundaries pact in eastern Mediterranean with Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) last month.

The deal allows Turkey to deploy military training personnel and equipment to Libya upon request. Erdogan needs parliamentary approval for combat troop deployment.

Libya's government said Thursday that it will officially request military support from Turkey if the war over the capital escalates. "If the situation escalates then we have the right to defend Tripoli and its residents," Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha told reporters in Tunis.

Since April, the GNA in Tripoli and forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who are based in Libya's east, have upped their struggle for power.

Turkey, along with Qatar, is believed to support the Tripoli government against Haftar, who is considered to be aligned with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Turkey is determined to back the GNA "much more effectively," Erdogan said, criticizing Russia along with "some European and Arab countries," for supporting a "putschist general" and a "warlord".

On Wednesday, Erdogan discussed possibilities for a ceasefire in Libya during a surprise visit to Tunis. Neighboring Tunisia can help bring stability in Libya, he said in a press conference with his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied.

Reuters contributed to this report.