ANKARA – Turkish President Erdogan announced that he will be sending troops to Libya under an agreement with the Government of National Accord (GNA). During a speech to the Annual Evaluation Meeting for 2019 at the Bestepe National Congress and Culture Centre in Ankara, Erdogan added that Turkey will use both military and diplomatic means to “ensure stability” in Libya, Sputnik reported.
The president also noted that Ankara will start the search and drill activities for gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2020 in line with the accord reached with the (mostly cosmetic) GNA and that the vessel Oruc Reis has already started seismic studies. The aggressive move has been harshly criticized by other countries in the region, namely Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus.
“After signing a maritime and security deal with Libya (GNA), it’s not legally possible to carry out exploration and drilling activities [for gas] or to lay a pipeline without the approval of both countries,” Erdogan said.
Earlier, the two main sides to the internal conflict in Libya, the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar failed to negotiate a ceasefire during talks in Moscow. While the GNA signed the negotiated ceasefire agreement, Haftar didn’t, as it was more favorable to the GNA. He returned to Libya and announced the continuation of his operations.
The next attempt to reconcile the warring parties is to take place in Berlin, Germany on January 19, where Germany, France, Turkey, Russia, the US, UK, China, and Italy will try to broker a new ceasefire deal. Turkish authorities earlier announced that military deployments under the agreement struck with the GNA would only commence if General Haftar continues his offensive on the GNA’s capital, Tripoli.
The Libyan Parliament, which supports General Haftar’s army, denounced the military cooperation agreement between the GNA and Turkey voting unanimously to break off all ties with Turkey. Libya has been in a state of civil war with multiple parties, including the GNA and the LNA, fighting each other ever since its late leader Muammar Gadhafi was murdered by Western-backed terrorists in 2011.