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Erdogan sends troops to give military back up to Libya’s GNA

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started sending troops to Libya after Ankara’s parliament approved the bill for same,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started sending troops to Libya after Ankara’s parliament approved the bill for the same, on Thursday. The bill, passed in a fast-track mode without any hindrance, puts a legal stamp over Turkey’s plan to provide full military backing to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

After world leaders, objected to Turkey’s meddling in the Libya conflict, as it would lead to a new full-blown proxy war in the Middle East, Erdogan clarified his stand during an interview with CNN Turk television on Sunday. He said that Turkey’s objective was “not to fight” but to support Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally-recognized GNA, and avoid a humanitarian crisis.

Erdogan said, “Our soldiers’ duty there is co-ordination. They will develop the operation center there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now.”

He added, “There will be an operation center (in Libya), there will be a Turkish lieutenant general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. (Turkish soldiers) are gradually moving there right now.”

This ‘training and advisory’ role of Ankara in Tripoli emergencies after Erdogan realized that supplying armored vehicles and weapons wasn’t enough to combat Libyan strongman Gen Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Turkey sticks to an open and flexible description with regard to its role in Libya as it would be easy for it to change the rules and taking direct charge of the conflict, whenever required.

If Turkey’s in for all peace and stability, it’s baffling why the world fears escalation of conflict in Libya. Interestingly, Libya, an oil-rich country with access to international waters from where most of the world’s oil is transported, is strategically and economically a significant territory for Turkey. What the Turkish bill actually allows is the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya to protect Ankara’s interests in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Turkey backs Serraj’s rule in Libya as the rebel forces of Gen Haftar would not allow Turkish penetration in the country, hampering Erdogan’s dream to gain an upper hand in Eastern Mediterranean which is a gold mine in terms of offshore energy exploration. Under Serraj’s rule, Turkey views Libya as part of its extended hinterland in the eastern Mediterranean and a gateway to Africa, an economically viable market.

Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights unfurls the ugly side of Turkey’s ongoing deployment scheme. Rahman said that Turkey has already recruited 500 Turkmen Syrian fighters ahead of deployment to Libya. “They are recruiting the fighters from different factions” of Syria’s opposition groups, Abdul Rahman said. As per the organization’s latest report, Turkey has set up four registration centers in northern Syria offering pay of up to $2,000 (€1,800) a month to fighters who would go to Libya.

Turkey’s defence pact with Libya, supported by Qatar would put the two at odds with Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordon and Egypt, all three of whom oppose the GNA.

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