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Turkey to establish military base in Libya

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (3rd R) meets the chairman of thee Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Al-Sarraj (3rd L) at Dolmabahce Office in Istanbul, Turkey on 27 November 2019. [Mustafa Kamacı - Anadolu Agency]
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (3rd R) meets the chairman of thee Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Al-Sarraj (3rd L) at Dolmabahce Office in Istanbul, Turkey on 27 November 2019. [Mustafa Kamacı - Anadolu Agency]

Turkey is set to establish a military base in Libya, according to Turkish media reports earlier this week, as President Recep Tayyip weighs up the possibility of intervention in the country’s civil war.

Yeni Shafak reported on Monday that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish parliament had approved a recent agreement between Turkey and Libya on military cooperation. It also includes provisions for launching a “quick reaction force” if requested by the Libyan government.

Military sources revealed to Yeni Shafak that the government asked the Turkish armed forces to equip ships and warplanes in preparation for the transfer of Turkish forces to Libya.

Last week, Erdogan stated that Turkey was ready to send troops to support the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), should Tripoli make such a request.

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However, the main Turkish opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) has expressed objections to sending troops to Libya, citing Ankara’s involvement in Syria. “What are we in Libya for? For what were we in the Syrian marsh? The government has to take lessons from what happened in the Syrian marsh,” the chairman of the CHP told the Turkish daily Hürriyet in an interview on Monday.

The move by Erdogan has potential to cause further tensions between Russia and Egypt who support the Libyan General Khalifa Haftar who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) and has plans to capture the capital.

On 7 November, Ankara and the GNA reached two separate memorandums of understanding (MoU), one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The earlier memorandum on maritime boundaries asserted Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

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