By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – On Thursday, Turkey’s parliament voted 325-184 in favor of sending troops to Libya to counter a major insurgency instigated by warlord Khalifa Haftar and numerous rival militias.
However, the affirmative vote has provoked rebuke from The Arab League, Egypt, Russia, the UAE as well as Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
The Arab League has discussed putting forth a motion in the UN Security Council to block Turkey from deploying troops. In a formal joint statement on January 2 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel labeled Turkey’s military support a ‘dangerous escalation.’
A week ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated how crucial military support is for the UN-backed, Government of National Accord (GNA) under the leadership of Prime Minister Fayaz al-Sarraj.
Cavusoglu and Turkish President Erdogan made it clear that the GNA is the legitimate government of Libya and must be protected from hostile forces who are trying to invade Tripoli and create a military dictatorship.
Turkey’s vice-president commented: “I hope with ratification of the (troops) motion, those who maintain their aggression in Libya receive the relevant message.”
When Cavusoglu was asked why the Turkish government was so quick to approve the motion on Libya, he said: “The situation on the ground is turning against the Tripoli government. We see this as a move that would secure a ceasefire.”
Meanwhile, Haftar, who controls most of eastern Libya is receiving military support and advanced weapons technology from Egypt, the UAE, Russia’s Wagner Group and purportedly,’ France.
Earlier this week, The Arab League held an emergency session to discuss the Libyan conflict along with Libya ‘s Foreign Minister Mohamed Sayala.
Though the League sharply criticised Turkey for its offer of military assistance to keep the GNA and Libya safe – it failed to address protracted military support from the very same countries that oppose Turkey’s defense of Libya’s legitimate GNA leadership.
The GNA has managed to stave off invasions on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces since April of this year. Libya made the request to Turkey for military aid just recently and prior to that request, Erdogan had reiterated support tor the GNA in every way possible.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres previously said he was very concerned that Libya could end up in a “full civil war” unless the conflict is resolved. Guterres ssid: “A political solution to the Libyan conflict requires the full and united support of the international community.”
In the meantime, U.S. President Trump and President Erdogan spoke about the Libya conflict on January 2, in a phone call after Turkey’s parliament voted in favor of military aid to Libya.
Trump told Erdogan that foreign interference in Libya is complicating the conflict there.
In an official statement, Erdogan and Trump.have agreed to cooperate more fully in bilateral relations to work on resolving the Libya conflict
The fact remains that Libyans made their stance clear when they held protests in Misrata and Tripoli last weekend, filling the streets with banners supporting Turkey and denouncing Haftar.
Now it will be up to a number of parties to agree to a political solution as the UN Secretary-General has urged all those involved to do.