Since the controversial death of long time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been torn with violence by an on-going civil war. The country is spilt under two ruling administrations, the UN-backed one based in Tripoli, and Gen Haftar’s opposing force based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
The ‘official’ government is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who leads a struggling democracy backed by UN, Turkey and its ally Qatar. Turkey has supplied the Tripoli government with drones and armoured vehicles during the war.
General Khalifa Haftar, controls most of the country and has been trying since last year April to take control of the capital, Tripoli. The general has the backing of Egypt, Russia and France. Moscow dispatched hundreds of people from the Wagner Group, the private security contractor with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, to fight alongside Gen Haftar’s forces.
On Sunday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkish military troops were being dispatched to Libya in support of the UN backed-government in Tripoli. According to Erdogan, the military was dispatched based on a formal request for military support by Libya.
“There will be an operation centre, there will be a Turkish lieutenant-general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. Our soldiers are gradually on their way now.” Mr Erdogan said in an interview with the Turkish broadcasters CNN Turk and Kanal D.
The Turkish president claims the objective is ‘participate in the war through combat but through other informative means’. Turkey says it wants “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”. The Turkish support comes after the maritime agreement reached by Tripoli and Ankara which gives Turkey rights to large swathes of the Mediterranean where gas reserves have recently been discovered.
What do world leaders think about Turkey’s move?
- President Donald Trump last week warned Mr Erdogan against interfering.
- Greece, Israel and Cyprus are angered and issued a joint statement warning against the Turkish deployment. The countries want to also exploit energy resources in the region.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in Libya.
- Egypt claims military intervention in Libya was a “matter of Egyptian national security”
At least 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an air raid on a military school in Tripoli on Saturday, according to the government.
A Libya analyst had said the escalation of Gen Haftar’s campaign in recent weeks was an attempt to make as much progress as possible before any dispatch of Turkish military reinforcements to aid his opponents.