Turkish parliament ratifies security deal with Libya: State media

Ankara backs internationally-recognised Libyan government as it fights offensive by renegade commander Haftar's forces.

    Turkish President Erdogan has said Ankara could deploy troops to Libya in the near future [Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu]
    Turkish President Erdogan has said Ankara could deploy troops to Libya in the near future [Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu]

    Turkey's parliament on Saturday approved a security and military cooperation deal signed with Libya's internationally-recognised government last month, state media reported, an agreement that could pave the way for military help from Ankara.

    Turkey has been backing the Libyan government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as it fights off a months-long offensive by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar's forces based in the east of Libya.

    Ankara has already sent military supplies to Libya, according to a report by United Nations' experts, as reported by the Reuters news agency earlier this month.

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    The two sides signed the deal in November to boost military cooperation, along with a separate accord on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean that has enraged Greece.

    There is an arms embargo on Libya imposed by the UN.

    On Saturday, the state-run Anadolu news agency said Turkey's parliament voted 269-125 in favour of the security accord after Serraj's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) ratified it on Thursday.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey could deploy troops to Libya in support of the GNA but no request has yet been made. He said on Friday that Turkey could not remain silent over Russian-backed mercenaries backing Haftar's forces. 

    Russia, meanwhile, said it was very concerned about the possibility of Turkey deploying troops in Libya and that the security deal raised many questions for Moscow. 

    Erdogan will discuss Ankara's potential troop deployment to Libya with Russian President Vladimir Putin during talks in Turkey next month, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. 

    Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the accords with Libya were historic for Turkey, adding that Ankara was ready to evaluate possible troop deployment.

    Deal approved by Tripoli government

    The GNA said in a statement on Thursday that its cabinet had "unanimously approved the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation between the GNA and the Turkish government signed on November 27".

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    Libya splintered into a patchwork of competing power bases following the NATO-backed overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

    The country has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014, with the GNA currently controlling Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, and a parallel administration holding the east of the oil-rich country, supported by Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

    Haftar's forces in April launched a campaign to wrest control of the capital, but have been unable to break through the GNA's defences.

    Last week, Haftar said that a "decisive battle" to capture the city would commence imminently.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies