Turkey will increase its military support for the internationally recognized government of Libya if necessary and will evaluate ground, air and marine options, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday, after the two countries signed a military cooperation accord last month, Reuters reported.
Turkey backs Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, which has been torn by factional conflict since 2011 and has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations arms embargo, according to a report by UN experts seen by Reuters last month.
Turkey has also said it could deploy troops to Libya if the GNA makes such a request.
The GNA has been fighting a months-long offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces based in the east of the country. Haftar’s forces have received support from Russia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking in Kocaeli province, Erdoğan said Turkey had recently provided “very serious” support to the GNA, adding that Libya was a country Turkey would support “with its life.”
“They are supporting an illegal warlord, who is the pawn of certain nations, instead of the UN-recognized government,” Erdoğan said, in apparent reference to Haftar and the countries that support him.
“If necessary, we will increase the military aspect of our support to Libya and evaluate all our options, from the ground, air and sea,” he said.
Last month, Turkey and the GNA signed an accord to boost military cooperation and a separate deal on maritime boundaries, which has enraged Greece. Ankara and Athens have been at odds over hydrocarbon resources off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.
While Greece has said the accord violates international law, Turkey has rejected those accusations, saying it aims to protect its rights in the eastern Mediterranean. On Sunday Erdoğan said Turkey would “absolutely” not retreat from its agreements with Libya.
“Nobody should come to us with attempts to exclude us, trap us in our own shores or steal our economic interests,” Erdoğan said. “We have no intention of starting conflicts with anyone for no reason, or robbing anyone of their rights,” he said.
“Those who oppose us have no sense of rights, law, justice, ethics or mercy,” Erdoğan said, referring to Greece, Israel and Egypt, who have opposed the maritime accord.