터키 정부가 내전 중인 리비아에 병력을 파견하겠다고 밝혔습니다.
레제프 타이이프 에르도안 터키 대통령은 오늘(26일) “리비아 (통합)정부의 요청에 따라 이르면 다음달 중 군대를 보내겠다”고 말했습니다.
리비아는 지난 2011년 ‘아랍의 봄’ 소요 사태로 무아마르 가다피 독재정권이 무너진 뒤 동서로 국토가 나뉘어 무력충돌을 벌이고 있습니다.
유엔이 인정하는 통합정부(GNA)가 수도 트리폴리를 포함한 서쪽에 자리잡았지만, 유전 지대인 동쪽은 칼리파 하프타르 최고사령관이 이끄는 ‘리비아국민군(LNA)’이 장악했습니다.
이런 가운데 터키와 GNA는 지난달 군사협력 협정에 서명한 바 있습니다.
이 협정은 GNA 요청이 있을 경우 터키가 군사 장비를 제공하고 병력 등 훈련도 지원할 수 있다는 내용이 골자입니다.
러시아 정부는 터키의 GNA 군사 지원에 우려를 표시해왔습니다.
현재 이슬람 원리주의 조직 ‘무슬림 형제단’을 매개로 터키와 카타르 등이 GNA를 지원하는 반면, 사우디아라비아와 아랍에미리트(UAE), 이집트 등은 LNA를 돕고 있습니다.
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey will send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, putting the north African country’s conflict at the center of wider regional frictions.
Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has been fending off a months-long offensive by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya, which have been supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Last month, Ankara signed two separate accords with the GNA, led by Fayez al-Serraj, one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Since there is an invitation (from Libya) right now, we will accept it,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in a speech. “We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens.”
The legislation would pass around Jan. 8-9, he said, opening the door to deployment.
However, it was unclear what specific invitation Erdogan was referring to, as the interior minister in the Tripoli-based government, Fathi Bashagha, suggested in comments to reporters in Tunis that no such official request had yet been made.
“If the situation escalates and then we have the right to defend Tripoli and its residents... we will submit an official request to the Turkish government to support us militarily so we expel the ghost of mercenary forces,” Bashagha said on Thursday.
For weeks Ankara has flagged the possibility of a military mission in Libya, which would further stretch its armed forces less than three months after it launched an incursion into northeastern Syria against a Kurdish militia.
Turkey has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations arms embargo, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters last month.
The Tripoli government and Haftar’s forces were not immediately available for reaction to Erdogan’s comments.
Erdogan visited Tunisia on Wednesday to discuss cooperation for a possible ceasefire in neighboring Libya. On Thursday, he said Turkey and Tunisia had agreed to support the GNA.
TENSION WITH RUSSIA
Moscow has voiced concerns over a possible Turkish military deployment to Libya in support of the GNA. Erdogan has said Turkey will not stay silent over mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group supporting Haftar.
“Russia is there with 2,000 Wagner (fighters),” Erdogan said on Thursday, also referring to some 5,000 fighters from Sudan in Libya. “Is the official government inviting them? No.”
“They are all helping a war baron (Haftar), whereas we are accepting an invitation from the legitimate government of the country. That is our difference,” he added.
Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army has been trying since April to take Tripoli from the GNA, which was set up in 2016 following a U.N.-brokered deal.
Turkish and Russian officials held talks in Moscow this week to seek a compromise on the issues of both Libya and Syria. Russia’s Vedomosti said on Thursday the discussions had lasted much longer than the expected three days.
In Syria, Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Turkey has backed rebels seeking his ouster during the more than eight-year civil war. The latest talks follow reports that Russian-backed attacks were forcing tens of thousands more Syrians to flee toward Turkey.
Turkey has also been ramping up efforts to strike deals with nations around the Mediterranean, where Ankara has been at loggerheads with Greece over resources off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.