Turkey is preparing a new military adventure after its invasion of northern Syria in October. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier in the week he could send troops to Libya if its UN-backed government requests help.
Erdogan’s threat follows a new offensive launched by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya, against the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
It also follows the security and military cooperation agreement, as well as a deal to drill natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean signed by Libya and Turkey last month.
Speaking on Tuesday, Erdogan pointed to Russian military contractors currently in the war-torn country. “If Libya requests the same of us, especially since we signed this military security agreement, we can send as much personnel as we can,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan said the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya would not violate a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
“In the event of such a call coming, it is Turkey’s decision what kind of initiative it will take here. We will not seek the permission of anyone on this,” he said.
Press reports suggest that Turkey has been arming the Tripoli government over the last few months. On Friday wreckage of an apparently Turkish surveillance system was discovered near Tripoli.
— Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del) December 13, 2019
The Bayraktar Tactical UAS is a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft system initially developed for the Turkish Armed Forces.
— M.LNA (@MElmalehLNA) December 13, 2019
Reports about Turkish military intervention in the Libyan civil war started appearing on various media outlets as early as May 19, 2019, yet did not provide solid open-source proof.
On May 18, photos and videos surfaced of what appeared to be state-of-the-art Turkish military equipment at the Tripoli docks.
Most of the photos showed armored fighting vehicles, which appeared upon closer examination to be Turkish-made BMC Kipri MRAP vehicles, which Turkey introduced at the 2018 Eurosatory Defence & International Exhibition.