ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday extended for another 18 months a mandate that allows the deployment of Turkish troops to Libya.
The mandate was renewed with the votes of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies which hold a majority in parliament. An opposition party also voted in favor of the extension.
The mandate first came into force in January 2020 following a security and military agreement that Turkey reached with Libya’s U.N.-backed administration in Tripoli, western Libya. It was then extended by 18 months in December 2020.
Erdogan requested the latest extension citing the ongoing “political uncertainty” in Libya and “risks and threats” that could threaten Turkey’s interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa. The request said Turkish troops were continuing to provide military training and consultancy in the country.
Turkey’s support for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord helped turn the tide of war in Libya. Turkish military assistance — including advisors, equipment and intelligence — helped block a year-long military attempt to capture Tripoli by forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, a Libyan commander who ruled the eastern half of the country.
Ankara has been accused of sending thousands of Syrian mercenaries to Libya.
Turkey at the time also signed a controversial maritime agreement with the Tripoli government, giving it access to a contested economic zone across the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The deal added to tensions in Turkey’s dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil and gas drilling rights.
Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.