Turkey's involvement in the ongoing Libyan war between Benghazi-based General Khalifa Haftar and the UN-recognized Tripoli GNA government is set to grow.
Following a recent military agreement between Turkey and Tripoli, and as Haftar's forces threaten attack on any Turkish plane or ship, it's expected the Turkish military will set up a base in the war-torn country. Middle East Monitor reports of the latest developments:
Turkey is set to establish a military base in Libya, according to Turkish media reports earlier this week, as President Recep Tayyip weighs up the possibility of intervention in the country’s civil war.
Yeni Shafak reported on Monday that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish parliament had approved a recent agreement between Turkey and Libya on military cooperation. It also includes provisions for launching a “quick reaction force” if requested by the Libyan government.
The exact location for the proposed base has not been revealed, but it will likely be in the vicinity of Tripoli, given that's where they key front line fighting has been as part of Haftar's LNA forces offensive on the capital.
The deal was initially touted by Ankara as primarily for oil and gas exploration off Libya's coast and in the eastern Mediterranean, but was later revealed to include close military cooperation agreements.
Addressing the controversial deal in statements made early this week President Erdogan told a pro-government news channel, "We will be defending the rights of Libya and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean." Already there are unconfirmed reports in Arabic media that Turkish special forces have landed in Tripoli.
But crucially, neighboring Egypt, which has long backed east Libyan strongman Haftar, has condemned the Turkey-Tripoli GNA deal as "illegitimate" and has even signaled its own military intervention could come.
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned in the wake of the Turkey-Libya agreement, "We will not allow anyone to control Libya... it is a matter of Egyptian national security."
Given the heightened proxy war nature of the conflict, now threatening to draw in regional powers angered over what they see as illegal Turkish incursion in their own backyard, some geopolitical observers are warning of a new war between Egypt and Libya, with Turkish military involvement.
Ironically, throughout this build-up a UN arms embargo has remained in effect on all warring sides of Libya; however, clearly few are paying much attention to this, especially the UAE, Egypt, and Turkey.