Turkey's main opposition objects to sending troops to Libya

Turkey's main opposition objects to sending troops to Libya
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Fayez al Sarraj, the head of Libya's internationally recognised government, prior to their talks in Istanbul, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. Turkey and Libya had reached an agreement on the delineation of maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean, in November. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s main opposition party said Monday it does not support the government’s plans to deploy troops to Libya, saying the move would embroil Turkey in another conflict and make it a party to the “shedding of Muslim blood.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the U.N.-supported government in Libya asked Ankara to send troops to help authorities in Tripoli defend the city from an offensive by rival forces.

The Turkish government is expected to submit a motion to parliament Monday allowing the deployment of Turkish forces to the conflict-torn country. A vote could take place as early as Thursday.

Although the details concerning the possible deployment have not been revealed, the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party, or CHP, made clear its lawmakers would vote against it.

“We don’t want this terrible picture that unfolded in Syria to unfold in yet another country,” Unal Cevikoz, the CHP’s deputy chairman told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“We will never accept Turkey to be a part of the proxy war in Libya and, by siding with one of the sides of the conflict, for it to be a cause of the shedding of Muslim blood,” Cevikoz said.

Cevikoz said Turkey must instead “give priority to a diplomatic solution” in Libya.

However, Erdogan’s ruling party is in an alliance with a nationalist party, and together the two have sufficient votes to pass the deployment motion.

Cavusoglu, the foreign minister, later also held talks with the leader of another opposition party, to seek support for the motion. That party has not made up its mind about backing the motion, he said.

Erdogan said last week that the government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj in Tripoli “invited” Turkey to send troops after the two recently signed a military cooperation agreement. Ankara and Tripoli have also signed a maritime deal. Both agreements have met with criticism across the region and beyond.

Sarraj’s administration has faced an offensive since April by the rival government based in eastern Libya and forces loyal to commander Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who is trying to take Tripoli.

The fighting around Tripoli escalated in recent weeks after Hifter declared a “final” and decisive battle for the capital.

Hifter is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.