Turkey’s parliament is to vote on whether to send Turkish troops to Libya, to back the UN-recognised government in the capital, Tripoli, that is battling forces loyal to a rival administration based in eastern Libya.
The Turkish legislators are expected to approve the motion at the emergency session on Thursday and grant a one-year mandate for the deployment, despite concerns that Turkish forces could aggravate Libya’s conflict further and destabilise the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month that al-Sarraj requested the Turkish deployment after the two signed a military deal that allows Ankara to dispatch military experts and personnel to Libya.
That deal, along with a separate agreement on maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya, has drawn ire across the region and beyond.
Details of the possible Turkish deployment have not been revealed. The motion to be debated in parliament allows the government to decide on the scope, size and timing of the deployment.
Ankara says the deployment is vital for Turkey to safeguard its interests in Libya and in the eastern Mediterranean, where it finds itself increasingly isolated as Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have established exclusive economic zones paving the way for oil and gas exploration.
Turkey’s main opposition party has made clear it would vote against the motion, saying it would embroil Turkey in another conflict and make it a party to the “shedding of Muslims’ blood”.