Turkey extends deployment of its troops in Libya

This decision follows a UN-negotiated ceasefire

AFP / HO / Oficina de Medios de la operación "Volcán de la Ira"  -   Armoured personnel carriers, sent to the National Accord Government (NAG) in the port of Tripoli, Libya

The fall of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi has plunged the country into utter chaos. Libya has become a veritable puzzle of alliances and strategies at international level. Libya is currently divided between two opposing ruling forces.

On the one hand we have the internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNA), based in Tripoli, supported by countries like Turkey and Qatar. Meanwhile General Haftar, based in Tobruk, is backed by Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Ankara's support for the ANG has been changing the course of the war in Libya. Turkish military assistance-including advisors, equipment and intelligence information-has helped stem the fall of Tripoli to forces loyal to Haftar. Turkey, moreover, has been accused on many occasions of sending Syrian mercenaries to the country.

Turkey has had troops in Libya since January to support the National Accord Government supported by the UN in Tripoli, which is harassed by the militias of Marshal Haftar, who controls part of the country. Therefore, yesterday the Turkish parliament passed a motion asking for an extension of the deployment of troops in Libya for another 18 months.

The motion was submitted by the presidency last week in the light of a request for military assistance from the UN-recognised government of Libya.

The motion was approved with the en bloc support of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in government since 2002, and with the support of its ally, the right-wing National Movement (MHP). While the main opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP), the People's Democratic Party (HDP), and the Party of Good (İYİ) voted against it.

"There are threats from Libya to Turkey and the whole region, and if the attacks resume again, Turkey's interests in the Mediterranean basin and North Africa will be affected negatively", the motion stated.

Turkey's decision to extend the deployment of its troops comes after a UN-negotiated ceasefire in Libya declared in October. The ceasefire agreement provided for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries within three months.

AFP/MAHMMUD TURKIA - Government of Libya combatants (GNA)

The motion also referred to this ceasefire and pointed out that "permanent peace, the ceasefire agreed in October and the political dialogue in Libya are of great importance for Turkey". "Turkey, in the framework of the Memorandum on Security and Military Cooperation signed with Libya, will continue to contribute to training and consulting support for Libya," the motion stated.

In January, Turkey sent its troops to the North African country with a mandate of one year, so this bill allows the Eurasian country to renew the mandate that came into force in 2019 after a security and military cooperation agreement with the UN-backed administration in Tripoli for another year.

Turkey in Afghanistan

The Turkish parliament during Tuesday's session also passed another motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Afghanistan for 18 months as part of NATO's support mission in the war-torn country.

"Turkey, which has deep ties of friendship and brotherhood with Afghanistan, has always supported the unity, integrity and independence of Afghanistan," the motion said.

The legislation came into force on January 6, 2019, allowing the Turkish government to send troops to Afghanistan to support the NATO-led Resolute Support mission. After ending the 17-year combat mission in Afghanistan in 2018, the mission has evolved into the training and mentoring of the nascent Afghan security forces.