Turkey's deployment in Libya 'message' to region: Expert
Turkey’s military deployment in Libya sends a message that it will protect its interests and Libya’s amid efforts to exclude Ankara from developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, an expert said on Jan. 3.
The Turkish parliament ratified on Jan. 2 a motion authorizing the government to send troops to Libya following deals on military cooperation and maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean struck Nov. 27 between Ankara and Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
“The main aim of the motion that authorizes the Turkish government to send troops to Libya is to express Turkey’s deterrence and determination in the face of fait accompli targeting Libya’s legitimate government GNA after the maritime and military cooperation deal between Turkey and Libya,” said Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of the Ankara Centre for Crisis and Policy Research (ANKASAM).
Erol said the bill primarily wants to ensure peace and stability in Libya as well as contribute to efforts to prevent the ongoing civil war there to further deepen.
"Turkey clearly declared to the whole world that it will not tolerate the moves aimed at excluding it from the diplomacy table and preventing its presence in the East Mediterranean and North Africa region and that it will protect its national interests and Libya’s rights at any cost,” he said.
The move also thwarted regional plots laid by “Greece, Southern Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates,” Erol said, emphasizing it provided Turkey with a significant advantage by adding Libya to the security corridor built by Turkey’s cooperation with Qatar, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan.
Military intervention possible if need be
Erol said the same foreign powers attempted to surround Turkey using a terror corridor in Syria and Iraq and the Libya deal was the second most important move following Turkey's military success to destroy the terror corridor in Syria and Iraq.
He said by sending troops to Libya upon the request of the country’s legitimate government, Turkey ensures it will protect the GNA and swiftly build a nation-state; to create a deterrent effect on all kinds of terror groups including East Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar forces with a view of preventing them from causing further harm to Libyans and the security of the region and finally to increase the operational capability and deterrence of both countries to protect their interests in the Eastern Mediterranean within the framework of the memorandum signed in November.
Turkey’s military move in Libya also showed its determination to carry out its goals in the country, including military intervention, Erol added.
He said regional countries learned what Turkish military presence in a country means from the crucial deterrent-protective role it played during the Qatar-Saudi Arabia crises.
Turkey backs Qatar in the Gulf crisis that was triggered when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar.
The four states accuse Qatar of supporting terror groups, allegations Doha denies and described the embargo as a breach of its national sovereignty.
Erol also pointed out that an armed fight is always in question, however, not directly against another state, but a terror group like Haftar’s that is supported by other states.
Turkey may establish naval base
Although Turkey initially seems to just have its land forces in Libya, as we had seen in Qatar, it may also increase its military presence in Libya by founding a naval base there as well, Erol noted.
Turkey, in accordance with the demands of Libya's legitimate GNA government, will have a military presence in Libya primarily to ensure the security of the government and to provide all kinds of support including training and consulting services, and technical and logistics services for the new Libyan army, Erol said.
According to the motion authorizing the government to send troops to Libya, Haftar forces launched a campaign to seize Tripoli and to overthrow the GNA government on April 4, 2019. Benefitting the support from foreign powers, Haftar forces were threatening civilians which resulted in deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country. The conflicts in the country were paving a way for terror acts by groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda in Libya which has been used as the main route for human trafficking.
Turkey’s military motion
Turkey will deploy troops in Libya for one year to take necessary steps in case of threats from illegitimate armed groups and the other terror groups targeting both countries’ national interests.
The bill also aims to provide security in Libya in the face of any possible mass migration and to provide Libyans with humanitarian aid.
It gives the Turkish Army a chance to launch “operation and [military] intervention” to protect Turkey’s interests and prevent future irreparable situations.