Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his decision to deploy Turkish troops in Libya on Thursday, December 26. According to Erdogan, Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has formally requested him for ground military support. The actual deployment will take place once the Turkish parliament ratifies the decision.
The Tripoli-based GNA and Turkey signed two accords last month related to security cooperation and maritime boundaries. Turkey has also been supplying arms to the GNA despite a UN ban.
According to media reports, the GNA under prime minister Fayez al-Siraj requested formal air, land and sea support on Thursday. The day witnessed intense battle on the outskirts of Tripoli after Khalifa Haftar’s three-day deadline to the local militias, to abandon support to the GNA, ended.
The GNA does not have a formal army and depends on several small militias to defend the city. Turkish deployment will help it maintain its hold on these areas. However, the actual deployment will take place a few weeks from now as the proposal requires ratification by the Turkish parliament.
Since the NATO-led war against Muammar Gaddafi began in 2011, Libya has been divided among several militias that claim control over its different parts. The two main groups vying for power are the GNA and the House of Representative government which is supported by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and is based in the eastern city of Tabruk.
The GNA is recognized by the UN and supported by Turkey, Italy and the US. However, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia, among others, do not recognize it and support Khalifa Haftar and the parliament in Tabruk.
The LNA controls most of the oil-producing areas in the country. In April this year, it started a campaign to capture Tripoli as well. According to the World Health Organisation the war for Tripoli has so far caused the death of more than 1,000 people and has displaced another 120,000. Libya has a total population of less than 7 million.