Turkey’s parliament has approved a motion on sending troops to Libya, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) backing the bill.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Felicity (Saadet) Party and the right-wing İYİ (Good) Party voted against the bill.
A total of 325 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion, while 184 of them voted against.
In an extraordinary session on Jan. 2, lawmakers addressed parliament to explain the reasons behind their votes.
“Our soldiers may get involved in a Vietnam-like civil war. We can’t let our soldiers become a part of a civil war that’s unrelated to our national security,” İYİ Party deputy Aytun Çıray said, as he slammed the government’s foreign policy.
“Turkey will become an object of hate in the Arab world,” he also said.
Both Ankara and Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) ratified the memorandum on military cooperation, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Fayez Sarraj on Nov. 27. Among everything, the document provides for military support between the parties.
Ankara plans to deploy troops to Libya to support the internationally-recognized GNA against eastern Libyan forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar that is backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, should Sarraj’s government ask.
Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to capture Tripoli since early April.
‘What are we doing in Libya?’
During his speech, Çıray likened the government’s Libya policy to that in Syria.
“People on the streets are asking, ‘What business do we have in Syria?’ Now, they will also ask what we are doing in Libya,” Çıray said, referring to Turkey’s three military incursions in northern Syria in the last three years.
CHP lawmaker Ünal Çeviköz also slammed the bill, saying that “sons of this nation” can’t be sent to “Libyan deserts.”
“This motion is a pre-planned call for disaster. The number of soldiers to be deployed remains unknown and the national interests are ambiguous. It’s impossible for us to back this motion. Our armed forces are not the special security of anyone,” Çeviköz said, adding that deploying troops would be the last thing to do to reach ceasefire in Libya.
‘Wars are murders’
Çeviköz also asked the reason for why countries in the region weren’t consulted.
“Tunisia says this [sending troops] would have a negative affect. Did you carry out consultations with Italy, France, Egypt or Greece? Turkey shouldn’t be involved in other countries’ proxy war,” he said.
“Wars are murders if a nation’s life is not in danger,” Çeviköz also said.
‘Grand failure in foreign policy’
HDP lawmaker Tülay Hatimoğulları Oruç said that the bill once again demonstrates the government’s grand failure in foreign policy, as well as its loneliness.
“The government declared to Turkey and the world that it won’t abandon politics of war and war-based foreign policy on the second day of the new year,” Oruç said, as she branded troop deployment as “invasion.”
“This government continues to add black pages to this country’s history,” she also said.
Reminding parliament that the United Nations Security Council has imposed a weapons embargo regarding Libya, Oruç noted that the first country to violate the embargo was Turkey.
“We know that Turkey has been providing all kinds of support to the Muslim Brotherhood supporter Tripoli government. Both the security and military cooperation agreements, as well as this motion aims to make what’s already happening a little bit more clear and to legitimize the current support,” she said.
MHP Group Deputy Chairman Erkan Akçay said that the bill prevents Turkey’s rights in the Mediterranean.
“We are contributing to the stability of our brotherly Libya and the regional peace. Turkey is not going to Libya to wage war, but to ensure peace and support the legitimate government,” Akçay said, adding that supporting the bill against “illegal actors like Hafter” is the absolute necessity of a national stance.
Saying that deploying troops to Libya, as well as providing weapons and ammunition to the GNA is “internationally legitimate,” Akçay noted that Turkey is carrying out its activities on “legal, legitimate and rightful grounds.”
‘Bill will contribute to peace’
AKP lawmaker İsmet Yılmaz also emphasized the legitimacy of the bill, saying that Turkey aims to protect its interest in the Mediterranean.
“Libya has asked for military support from Turkey and we can’t remain silent in the face of it. The bill will contribute to reaching a ceasefire in the country,” Yılmaz said.
“The illegitimate LNA released statements saying that the Turkish companies, Turkish citizens and Turkey-registered ships in the Mediterranean will be targeted,” he also said as one of the reasons to deploy troops to Libya.
Felicity Party makes surprise move
The most surprising move came from the Felicity Party, which, prior to the voting, said that it will back the motion, but changed its stance in the last minute.
“The responsibility of what will happen in Libya falls on the government’s shoulders. We won’t be a partner to this,” the party’s deputy Abdülkadir Duman said.
‘Would you like to see Libyan soldiers in Ankara?’
Turkish Workers Party (TİP) head Erkan Baş asked lawmakers whether they would want to see Libyan soldiers in Ankara in a defiant speech.
He also criticized the AKP for being the most pro-American government in Turkish history.