Turkey's Libya mandate may include combat mission

Turkey's Libya mandate may include combat mission

Signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a bill seeking the consent of lawmakers to deploy Turkish troops in Libya has been submitted to the Turkish Parliament.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop called on all lawmakers to attend a special session on Jan. 2 for the vote on the bill although the parliament is in recess until Jan. 7.

Different from earlier statements by senior Turkish officials, the two-page draft bill gives a broad and flexible mandate for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Libya and does not rule out combatting with the “illegitimate forces.”

The motion summarizes the developments in Libya since 2011 by giving a special emphasis on the Libyan Political Agreement in 2015 which gave birth to a caretaker Government of National Accord (GNA) recognized by the United Nations.

It highlights the GNA as the sole legitimate government in Libya and recalls that U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 2259 calls on all countries to support to the legitimate government and therefore cut all links with illegitimate powers.

However, the motion does not cite other U.N. Security Council resolutions that have introduced an arms embargo and prohibited foreign intervention into Libyan affairs.

The motion blames the Libyan National Army under the control of General Khalifa Haftar for continuing and intensifying its attacks against the Tripoli-based GNA as a result of military support it receives from the external powers.

The humanitarian conditions in Libya are deteriorating as the Haftar forces target civilians and civilian infrastructure, the motion underlined, suggesting that ongoing clashes in the country provide a suitable environment for terrorist organizations, like ISIL and al-Qaeda.

“All these developments pose a threat for the entire region, including Turkey,” read the motion, recalling the threats voiced by the Haftar forces against the Turkish companies operating and Turkish citizens residing in Libya as well as Turkish civilian vessels sailing through the Mediterranean Sea.

The continued attacks by the Libyan National Army and the risks of an intensified civil war in Libya would have negative effects on the Turkish interests in the Mediterranean basin and in North Africa, it suggests, referring to a recent bilateral memorandum of understanding with the GNA on the delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction in the Mediterranean.

It’s of vital importance for Turkey that a ceasefire is reached, and peace is established in Libya, the motion underlined, recalling that the GNA demanded military support from Turkey for the protection of the unity and stability of Libya.

Considering all these points, the government suggests that the troops should be deployed to Libya to perform the following duties:

- To take all the necessary measures, in line with international law, to address any sort of threats and security risks against Turkey’s national interests;
- To eliminate attacks by the illegitimate armed groups and terror organizations against Turkey’s interests in Libya;
- To sustain security in the face of other risks such as mass migration;
- To deliver humanitarian aids to address the needs of the Libyan people;
- To provide the support demanded by the GNA;
- To protect Turkey’s interests in Libya in line with the potential developments in the aftermath of this process.

The motion, therefore, suggests that Turkey should follow a dynamic and swift policy in order not to face an irreversible situation in Libya. The timing of the deployment, the scope of the mission and the size of the military deployment will be decided by the president, the motion recalls, underlining that the code of conduct of these troops will also be determined by the president.

As seen, the scope of the motion is more substantial than a non-combat mission. It puts Turkey’s national interests in Libya to the core of the military mission and addresses not only short-term but also long-term objectives.