Turkey’s parliament has authorized the government to deploy troops to Libya in support of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.
In an emergency session on Thursday, Turkish lawmakers approved the motion by 325 to 184 despite concerns that such a deployment could further destabilize Libya, which has been ravaged by violence since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The U.N.-supported government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj is battling rival forces allied with Khalifa Haftar, who enjoys the support of Egypt, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and France. Fighting around the capital has escalated in recent weeks.
Ankara has been a vocal supporter of the al-Sarraj government, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month that Tripoli had requested Turkish troops.
Thursday’s motion includes no details on a potential deployment, allowing the government to determine the scope, length and timing of any operation in Libya. The mandate is valid for one year.
The motion passed with the support of Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which together hold a majority in the Turkish parliament.
Turkey’s major opposition parties, including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the right-wing Good Party, voted against.
They argue that any deployment would draw Turkey into another violent conflict — with Turkish troops already involved in the Syrian war — and advocate a diplomatic solution. The government, on the other hand, says a deployment would help secure Turkey’s interests in the region.
Last month, Turkey and Libya’s U.N.-backed government signed agreements on military cooperation and maritime borders. The latter accord, under which Turkey claims large parts of the eastern Mediterranean as its own territory, sparked outrage in Greece and Cyprus and drew condemnation from across the EU.
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