Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to send troops to Libya next month at the request of Tripoli’s Government of National Accord (GNA), as they continue to fend off attacks from renegade warlord General Khalifa Haftar’s opposition forces.
In a speech in front of his AK Party in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan announced that he will present the legislation to the Turkish parliament early next month.
“Since there is an invitation (from Libya) right now, we will accept it,” Erdogan said. “We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens.”
“God willing, we will pass it in Parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to the invitation,” he continued.
A GNA official told Reuters that they submitted a formal request for Turkish military support in the air, on the ground, and at sea.
Libya has been in an ongoing state of emergency since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising overthrew the longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. In 2014, the country split into rival eastern and western administrations, with the GNA in control of western Libya and Haftar’s parallel government controlling the East with the backing of his Libyan National Army (LNA).
In April, Haftar launched a military campaign against the GNA, accusing them of harboring “terrorist elements.” Both sides have amassed various international backers, with Turkey and Qatar supporting the GNA, while Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and France support Haftar.
Meanwhile, the United States is supporting the GNA, although Washington pulled its troops out of the region in April last year after Haftar launched his offensive.
According to those on the ground, Haftar’s forces have failed to reach the center of Tripoli but have made some gains in recent weeks in the city’s suburbs with the help of Russian and Sudanese fighters, as well as drones provided by the UAE.
Russia’s involvement has caused major tensions with Ankara, with Erdogan warning that he would not stay silent of their interference
“Russia is there with 2,000 Wagner (fighters). Is the official government inviting them? No,” he said on Thursday. “They are all helping a war baron (Haftar), whereas we are accepting an invitation from the legitimate government of the country. That is our difference.”