President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government will submit a bill to allow for the deployment of Turkish forces to Libya, following a request by Tripoli to defend the city from an offensive by rival forces.
Speaking to his ruling party’s officials, Erdogan said the Tripoli government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj invited Turkey to send troops under a military cooperation agreement signed recently between the two.
Erdogan’s ruling party holds a majority in parliament, which signals the bill will easily pass in the house.
Ankara’s latest move comes as the Libyan war enters a crucial stage, with eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar launching what he said would be a “final battle” for Tripoli.
His offensive against Sarraj’s UN-recognised government began in April and has so far stalled outside the capital. Yet the escalation threatens to plunge the northern African country into further chaos.
“We will go to places where we are invited to, and not go to places we are not invited to,” Erdogan said. “At the moment, since there is such an invitation, we will accept this invitation.”
“We will give the administration in Tripoli every kind of support against the coup-plotting general who is supported by various European and Arab countries,“” Erdogan added, referring to Haftar. “We are siding with Libya’s legal government.“”
Libya is divided between the two administrations, Sarraj’s in Tripoli and the east-based government, each supported by an array of militias and foreign governments.
Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.