Libyan MPs condemn extension of Turkish military presence in Libya

Bassem Aly , Wednesday 23 Dec 2020

The Turkish parliament approved Erdogan's bill extending the deployment of military troops in Libya for 18 months

FILE PHOTO A member of the Turkey-backed troops loyal to the GNA rides a military vehicle on the outskirts of Misrata, July 18, 2020 REUTERS

Libyan MPs decried on Wednesday the Turkish parliament's approval of a bill on Tuesday submitted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extend the deployment of military troops in war-torn Libya for 18 months.

Zidan Al-Zadma, a Libyan MP, accused Turkey of seeking to maintain its political and economic interests in Libya, especially in the west, and to control the country's natural resources. Speaking to Al-Arabiya, Al-Zadma warned that Turkey's military involvement in Libya is a threat to the ongoing peace process and the ceasefire deal signed in August between parties to the conflict.

"Turkey does not want a solution in Libya because it benefits from unrest and turmoil," Al-Zadma said.

Ali Al-Takbali, a member of the Libyan parliament's defence and security committee, also told Al-Arabiya that Turkey is disregarding international decisions and agreeements that stipulate the withdrawal of foreign troops from Libya.

Highlighting Turkey's recent transfer of troops and military equipment to western Libya, Al-Takbali emphasised that Turkey is attempting to obstruct rapprochement between Libya's political forces to protect its interests.

Mesbah Oheyda, a Libyan MP, said the Turkish bill is an "invasion" that might threaten military negotiations by the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission.

Libya has been divided between two authorities in Tripoli and Tobruk for six years.  Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and is allied to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. The LNA is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, and Russia.
Meanwhile, the Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in Tripoli, the capital, and counts on the support of Turkey, Qatar, and thousands of Syrian mercenaries. Turkey signed an accord with the GNA last year to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast. Some of the areas involved are around Cyprus, and the latter accuses Turkey of searching for gas in its territorial waters. This has been an oil-for-protection agreement.
On 22 August, both parties to the conflict declared a ceasefire that ended fears about possible GNA aggression against the port city of Sirte, 370 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli and Jufra, which has a major military airbase.
The ceasefire has been followed by rounds of peace talks in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Switzerland to discuss post-war arrangements.
So far, the Libyan parties agreed to hold national elections in December 2021, develop "criteria, transparent mechanisms, and objectives" for key power positions, work on the release of all prisoners, protect oil and gas facilities and completely resume production and export activities.
But the GNA has insisted on maintaining military and security relations with Turkey.
On 26 October, the GNA's defence minister Salaheddin Al-Namroush stressed that the Tripoli-based government will “enhance cooperation with Turkey as an ally and continue training programs that were received and will continue to be received by those enrolled in the GNA defence ministry’s training institutes."
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