Turkey’s parliament yesterday authorised the deployment of troops to Libya to support the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli battle forces loyal to a rival government that is seeking to capture the capital.
Turkish lawmakers voted 325-184 at an emergency session in favor of a one-year mandate allowing the government to dispatch troops amid concerns that Turkish forces could aggravate the conflict in Libya and destabilize the region.
Egypt strongly condemned yesterday the decision, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Egypt said any such deployment could “negatively affect the stability of the Mediterranean region” and called on the international community to urgently respond to the move.
The Tripoli-based government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival regime in the east and commander Gen. Khalifa Hifter. The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violent chaos rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkey would send “the necessary number (of troops) whenever there is a need.” But he also said Turkey would not dispatch its forces if Libya’s rival government halts its offensive. “If the other side adopts a different stance and says ‘OK, we are withdrawing, we are backing down,’ then why would we go?” Oktay said.
Turkey’s main opposition party, CHP, had said its lawmakers would vote against the motion because the deployment would embroil Turkey in another conflict and make it a party to the further “shedding of Muslim blood.” Before the vote, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called on the government yesterday to work for the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Libya.
“Turkey must take the lead for efforts to establish stability in the region and concentrate all diplomatic efforts in that direction,” Kilicdaroglu tweeted. A center-right opposition party also said its legislators would not back the motion.
“We cannot throw our soldiers in the line of fire of a civilian war that has nothing to do with our national security,” said Aytun Ciray, a member of the opposition Good Party, said during the parliamentary debate.