TURKISH Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country is preparing for troop deployment to Libya, says the prolongation of the Libyan conflict could plunge the North African country into ‘chaos’ and turn it into another Syria.
‘If today Libya becomes like Syria, then the turn will come for the other countries in the region,’ Cavusoglu said at a meeting of the governing AK Party in the capital, Ankara, on Saturday.
‘We need to do whatever is needed to prevent Libya from being divided and sliding into chaos, and that is what we are doing. It is the legitimate government there that we deal with,’ he added, stressing Turkey’s commitment to agreements signed with Libya’s internationally-recognised government last month.
The accords – one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean – were inked on November 27 and granted Ankara the right to deploy troops to Libya if asked by Tripoli.
Last Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara had received that request and that the Turkish parliament would soon authorise the dispatch of troops to Libya.
Erdogan said the Turkish parliament will soon pass a bill to send military forces to Libya as Tripoli has offered an ‘invitation’ for the deployment.
The Libyan government has been fighting an offensive by militia under the command of General Khalifa Haftar near the capital for nine months.
Haftar’s forces have previously seized and searched a Turkish vessel, suspecting that it was carrying weapons for the UN-backed government. They released the ship afterwards, however.
Libya was wracked by chaos in 2011, when an Islamist uprising backed by a NATO military intervention, using airpower, led to the overthrow and murder of of long-time leader Muammar Gadaffi by Islamist fighters, after Gadaffi’s convoy was attacked by NATO aircraft.
Turkish President Erdogan’s communications director says Tripoli has asked for Ankara’s military aid, stressing his country’s commitment to agreements signed with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).
In a series of tweets last Friday, Fahrettin Altun reiterated Turkey’s support for Libya’s ‘internationally recognised legitimate government’ and urged ‘outside powers’ to stop supporting ‘illegitimate groups’ in the North African country.
‘Libya’s government has requested Turkey’s military support. As President Erdogan said, we will of course honour our agreement. We are fully committed to protecting our mutual interests and establishing stability in the Mediterranean.’
The Turkish official further noted that the maritime deal reached between Turkey and Libya last month ‘ensures that Turkey’s freedom of movement in the high seas is not undermined.’
‘It also ensures a strong relationship with the Libyan government. We are committed to stability and peace both in Libya and in the Mediterranean,’ he added.
On November 27, Turkey and Libya signed the maritime accord which marks the boundary between the two countries in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean close to the Greek island of Crete.
They also inked another agreement on expanding security and military cooperation.
The accord granted Ankara the right to deploy troops to Libya if asked by Tripoli.
Speaking last Thursday, Erdogan said the Turkish parliament would vote on January 8 or 9 on a motion to send troops to Libya in a bid to bolster the Tripoli-based government against forces loyal to Libyan general Khalifa Haftar.
President Erdogan said the Turkish parliament will soon pass a bill to send military forces to Libya as Tripoli has offered an ‘invitation’ for the deployment.
‘As we support the Libyan government, we do not want Libya to be a war zone.
‘Those regional forces working to reestablish repressive regimes unaccountable to people are active in Libya. Their efforts to install client governments will not succeed,’ Altun said.
Algeria meanwhile has held a security meeting as Turkey mulls Libya deployment
In another development last Thursday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune chaired a rare meeting of the country’s top security body amid Turkey’s plan to deploy troops to Libya.
The Algerian High Security Council met and ‘discussed the situation in the region, particularly on the borders with Libya and Mali,’ the president’s office said in a statement.
‘It decided on a battery of measures to boost the protection of our borders and national territory, and to revitalise Algeria’s role on the international stage, particularly concerning these two issues,’ it added without elaborating on those measures.
Also last Thursday, Libya’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said at a press conference in Tunis that a Turkish-Tunisian-Algerian alliance had been formed to support the Libyan government.
The Tunisian Presidency, however, dismissed joining the alliance and insisted that the country wanted to preserve its neutral stance on the Libya crisis without taking part in any coalitions.
‘Rachida Ennaifer, designated Media in-Charge at the Tunisian Presidency, denies the press conference statement by Fathi Bashagha on Tunisia joining an alliance with Libya, Turkey and Algeria. She said the statement does not reflect the position of Tunisia,’ the Libyan News Observatory tweeted.
Erdogan said Tunisia would have ‘valuable’ contributions to establishing stability in Libya.
Earlier last week, Erdogan met with his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied during a surprise visit to the Tunisian capital to discuss developments in Libya.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Erdogan said they had exchanged views on ways to bring about a ceasefire in Libya and a return to political dialogue.
Libya has been the scene of violence since 2011, when former leader Muammar Gadaffi, under whose regime the Libyan people experiences massive prosperity, was toppled after an uprising and a NATO military intervention using UK and French airpower.
Libya’s eastern-based administration has rejected a security deal between the UN-backed government and Turkey, saying plans by Ankara to deploy troops to the North African country would be seen as a form of unwanted intervention.
The speaker of Libya’s eastern parliament, Aguila Saleh, said on Saturday that a recent maritime border deal signed deal between the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli, and Turkish government was a ‘flagrant violation of international law’ because the legislature in Libya’s second city of Benghazi must approve the agreement.
Speaking in Cyprus, where he was meeting officials of the country, Saleh said the GNA has no legal mandate to sign an agreement with other countries without obtaining the consent of the parliament and a nine-member presidential council.
He also said that plans by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send troops to Libya would lead to more tensions in the Mediterranean and would constitute unwanted meddling in the internal affairs of Libya.
Erdogan said last Thursday that he was mulling a deployment in Libya at the request of the GNA to counter increasing threats posed by eastern forces led by army general Khalifa Haftar.
The Turkish President repeatedly said the Turkish parliament will soon pass a bill to send military forces to Libya as Tripoli has offered an ‘invitation’ for the deployment.
The announcement has sparked massive controversy both in Libya and outside of the country as many fear that the deployment would further complicate the situation in the oil-rich North African country years after it slipped into chaos after the murder of Muammar Gadaffi.
Saleh accused Erdogan of sending weapons to Libya while saying that the Turkish president was seeking to expand his control across the Med.
He said Erdogan was trying to capitalise on divisions existing in Libya to create economic advantages for his government in the eastern Mediterranean region.