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Turkish Parliament Approves Government Motion for Libya Troop Deployment, amid Opposition

Jan. 2, 2020 (EIRNS)—Turkey’s Parliament passed a government motion on Jan. 2 to authorizes the government to send Turkish troops to support Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli for a one-year deployment. It passed with the support of the ruling Justice and Development Party the Nationalist Movement Party, and the Islamic Felicity Party.

Shortly after the vote, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Turkish Presidency, Trump and Erdogan “stressed the importance of diplomacy in resolving regional issues.” The situation in Syria was also addressed on the call, it said. U.S. Press Secretary Phil Hogan was quoted as saying by various media: “The leaders discussed bilateral and regional issues. President Trump pointed out that foreign interference is complicating the situation in Libya. The leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians.”

The main opposition parties—Republican People’s Party (CHP), IYI (Good) Party, and the People’s Democratic Party—voted against the government motion, charging a deployment will embroil Turkey in another conflict at a time when it is still trying to extricate itself from Erdogan’s eight-year adventure in Syria. During the debate over the motion, CHP’s Deputy Chair Ünal Çeviköz questioned why Turkey did not consult with regional countries and has decided to use military power instead. He warned that the policy makes Turkey part of a proxy war in Libya and will violate UN resolutions banning the supply of weapons to either the GNA government in Tripoli or the forces of the Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar based in the eastern half of the country.

The motion allows Erdogan to decide on the size, timing and scope of the deployment, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. The motion claims the deployment is for the “protection of rights in the Mediterranean with national interests in Libya, prevention of illegitimacyby mass migration threat and formation of a favorable environment for terrorist organizations and armed groups, and aiming humanitarian aid to the Libyan people.”

In recent weeks, Erdogan has been trying to build support for Turkey’s move. Last month he traveled to Tunisia to meet with Tunisian President Kais Saied, after which he proclaimed that Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria were in “alliance” to support the Tripoli-based government. The GNA, while formally recognized internationally, is actively supported only by Great Britain and the Muslim Brotherhood militias in western Libya.

While Erdogan thinks he is forming an alliance, the Tunisian Presidency issued an official statement a few days later denying that any such alliance was formed and reiterated its neutrality and support for a political solution to the conflict. It also reinforced its border with Libya “to prevent Tunisia from turning into a corridor for ISIS.” Also in the days following the Erdogan-Saied meeting, protesters demonstrated in front of the Turkish Embassy against Erdogan’s recent visit, according to Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA). The protesters urged the Tunisian President to issue a clear policy in response to Erdogan’s remarks that an agreement had been reached with Tunis to support the GNA.

Algeria similarly responded to being named in Erdogan’s “alliance” by convening its High Security Council on Dec. 28, chaired by newly-elected President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to discuss contingency plans for the threatened Turkish military intervention, according to Asharq Al-Awsat. A short government statement said of the meeting, “It decided on a battery of measures to boost the protection of our borders and national territory, and to revitalize Algeria’s role on the international stage, particularly concerning these two issues.” It is believed that Algeria has no interest in intervening in Libya.

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