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Erdogan talks Libya ceasefire in Tunisia

December 25, 2019

The Turkish president has boosted military support for Libya's Tripoli-based government. But Turkey's maneuverings in the North African country could put it on a warpath against forces loyal to Libya's rival government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exits a government plane
Image: picture-alliance/AA/G. Balci

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tunisia with his security cabinet on Wednesday for unscheduled talks with his Tunisian counterpart, Kais Saied.

Shortly after his arrival, Erdogan announced that he discussed possible steps with Saied to secure a ceasefire in Libya.

Last week, Turkish parliament backed a security deal between the Turkish government and Libya's internationally-recognized government that would effectively allow Ankara to provide military assistance.

Read more: Turkey-Libya maritime deal triggers Mediterranean tensions

In this picture taken Thursday, March 10, 2016, fighters against the Islamic State group fire weapons in the Hawari area, south-west of the city of Benghazi, Libya
Forces loyal to rival governments have fought for power across LibyaImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. El-Shaiky

Turkish military support

On Tuesday, Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said parliament has taken additional measures to shore up military support for Libya in the event the Turkish government considers deploying troops on Libyan soil.

"There might be a need for an authorization in line with the developments over there. The parliament is conducting work on this issue," said Kalin, "We will continue to support the internationally-recognized Libyan government."

"This support may be in terms of military training, or other areas, such as political support."

Read more: What is Turkey doing in Libya?

No end in sight

Turkey is at odds with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Egypt, which support a rival eastern-based Libyan government backed by general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar. His National Libyan Army has warned against Turkish interventions, saying it further destabilizes the country.

Libya was plunged into chaos in 2011 after the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi launched a brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters.

NATO-backed rebels eventually defeated the regime and captured Gadhafi, who was killed in captivity. Since then, warring factions have fought a bitter war to maintain power in the North African country.

Read more: Can the EU and partners stabilize Libya?

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ls/aw (Reuters, dpa)