Turkey’s parliament has passed a bill authorizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to deploy troops to Libya in support of Libya’s U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
The motion was passed by 325 – 184, with the AKP and its nationalist ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voting in favor.
Opposition parties, including the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the right-wing Good Party (IYI), voted against the motion.
The Islamist Felicity Party (SP) MPs abstained from the vote despite chairman Temel Karamollaoglu’s previous announcement backing the motion.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday submitted the motion to the parliament, which held an emergency session for voting due to the “urgency of the issue.”
On November 27, President Erdogan signed two agreements with the GNA prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, on security and maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, which were both subsequently ratified by the Turkish parliament.
The resolution passed on Thursday grants Erdogan the authority to decide on the limit, extent, quantity, and timing for military operation and intervention in case of necessity.
The motive behind the move is expressed as “Turkey’s protection of rights in the Mediterranean with national interests in Libya, prevention of illegitimacy by mass migration threat and formation of a favorable environment for terrorist organizations and armed groups, and aiming humanitarian aid to the Libyan people,” in the mandate document.
However, details about the possible Turkish deployment have yet to revealed by the Turkish government.
Since the ousting of Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, Libya has been split between the Tripoli-based GNA and General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
The GNA has the backing of Turkey, Qatar, and Italy, while the LNA receives aid from Russia, France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
An immediate condemnation for the approval came from Egypt, which warned of “repercussions of any Turkish military intervention” in the north African nation.
In a phone call after the voting, US President Donald Trump similarly warned Erdogan against “foreign interference” in Libya, according to Washington.
Turkey’s Vice President, Fuat Oktay, told state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) that Turkey would send the necessary number of troops whenever needed but would also not dispatch its forces if the rival LNA halts its offensive on Tripoli.
Before the vote, the main opposition CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called on the AKP to work for the establishment of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force in Libya.
“Turkey must take the lead for efforts to establish stability in the region and concentrate all diplomatic efforts in that direction,” Kilicdaroglu tweeted.
The representatives of opposition parties expressed their opinions before the parliamentary vote.
“Our soldiers may get involved in a Vietnam-like civil war. We can’t let our soldiers become a part of a civil war that’s unrelated to our national security.
Turkey will become an object of hate in the Arab world,” IYI Party Lawmaker Aytun Ciray said.
HDP’s Tulay Oruc reminded the lawmakers that the UN’s weapons embargo on Libya and said Turkey was the first country to violate the embargo. She added that the motion was an attempt to legitimize that already-available violation.
Among the opposing remarks, the most surprising ones came from the SP lawmakers, Cihangir Islam, and Abdulkadir Duman.
Hours before the vote, Islam tweeted that he would not participate in the parliamentary session, signaling his reaction to his party’s motion-supporting stance.
Addressing parliament, Duman also said the responsibility of what would happen in Libya would fall on the AKP’s shoulders. “We will not be a partner to this [motion],” Duman added.
The GNA-aligned forces have been under intense pressure since the start of a renewed push by Haftar’s forces, who are on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli. The offensive had stalled, but following the introduction of Russian supported mercenaries, the balance of power has shifted in favor of Haftar.
As is the case in Syria, Turkey, and Russia back opposing parties in Libya. Moscow supports Haftar’s LNA, which has made gains in recent weeks against the Ankara-backed GNA.