Turkey could send troops to support Libya’s embattled UN-backed government as early as next month, President Tayyip Erdogan declared on Thursday, in a move that will fuel fears that the country’s civil conflict is turning into a proxy war between regional powers.
Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, has been fending off a months-long offensive against the capital by General Khalifa Haftar, a renegade field marshal whose forces have received support from Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkey has emerged as a key backer the GNA since the battle began in April, and is already believed to have supplied weapons to the GNA, reports The Telegraph. Last month, Ankara signed two separate accords with the GNA, led by Fayez al-Serraj, one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.
The maritime deal ends Turkey’s isolation in the East Mediterranean and paves the way for an offshore energy exploration program that has alarmed neighbours including Greece. The military deal is designed to shore up Turkey’s lone ally in the region, Tripoli, which is surrounded by Gen Haftar’s forces.