Turkish president Erdogan wants to send troops to Libya. He said that today in a speech.
According to Erdogan, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the UN-recognized government, has asked him for military support. Erdogan is now responding to that. He is expected to ask the Turkish parliament at the beginning of January to agree to send troops. Tunisia is in line with the mission, Erdogan said.
Battle for Tripoli
After the fall of dictator Gaddafi in 2011, a struggle for power started in Libya. In 2014, the 75-year-old former General Haftar, who was exiled under Gaddafi, returned to Libya with the aim of taking over power.
The warlord now controls nearly two thirds of the country. In April, Haftar launched an offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli. There is still fighting for the city.
Haftar is supported in this by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, among others. They see him as a buffer against extremist groups. Opponents such as Turkey regard Haftar as the new Gaddafi.
Last month, Turkey already made agreements with the Libyan prime minister about military cooperation and sea borders to the annoyance of Greece and others. Last weekend the Turkish parliament agreed to the agreements.
A few hours later, Haftar troops seized a ship with a Turkish crew off Libyan waters. After that incident, Erdogan said he could not exclude sending troops to Libya. He described Haftar as an “illegal warlord who is the pawn of certain countries”.
Russia has already expressed its concern about Turkey’s military involvement in Libya. Conversely, Erdogan spoke critically about Russian “mercenaries” who, according to him, are fighting for Haftar. The friction is salient, because the armies of the countries work together in Syria.