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Trump warns Turkey against 'interference' after Libya vote

Turkey's agreements with Libya's Tripoli-based government have provoked international condemnation [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 January, 2020

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Turkey's parliament approved the deployment of troops to support Libya's UN-backed government on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump has warned against "foreign interference" after Turkey's parliament approved the deployment of troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Trump warned his Turkish counterpart against the move in a phone call on Thursday, according to the White House.

"Foreign interference is complicating the situation," he said.

Turkish lawmakers voted 325-184 at an emergency session on Thursday in favour of a one-year mandate allowing the government to dispatch troops in support of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj's government. 

No further details have been given about the scale of a possible Turkish troop deployment requested by Tripoli nor has a date been set.

Vice President Fuat Oktay described the measure as a "political signal" aimed at deterring rogue General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) from continuing their assault on the Libyan capital.

Tripoli has been under sustained attack since April by the military strongman, who is backed by Turkey's regional rivals - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Cairo has strongly condemned the Turkish vote, saying it amounted to a "flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions on Libya", while Israel, Cyprus and Greece denounced a "dangerous threat to regional stability".

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Haftar has reportedly requested military support from Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

While the Tobruk government based in the country's east and associated with Haftar's forces condemned the possible deployment of Turkish troops as "high treason", the LNA has accepted military support from foreign forces in the past. 

Read more: 'No end in sight': Why Libya's proxy war might be about to flare-up

Both Jordan and the UAE have violated a United Nations arms embargo to support Haftar, UN experts said late last year. Russia has also been accused of sending private mercenaries to fight alongside Haftar's forces, although this has been denied by Moscow.

Turkey is also accused of violating the same UN arms embargo in support of Sarraj's government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to received his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next Wednesday to inaugurate a new gas pipeline. Libya is also expected to be a key topic of discussion.

Moscow and Ankara are expected to seek a balancing act with regards to escalating tensions in Libya. The two regional powers have managed to work closely on the Syrian conflict despite supporting opposing sides.

Increasing tensions over foreign intervention in Libya began in November, when Ankara and Tripoli inked both military and maritime cooperation deals.

The equally controversial maritime jurisdiction agreement, ratified by Turkey's parliament in December, gives Turkey rights to large swathes of the Mediterranean where gas reserves have recently been discovered.

The agreement drew harsh international criticism, particularly from Athens, which says it ignores its own claims to the area.

The European Union has previously threatened Turkey with sanctions over gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus.

Agencies contributed to this report

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