Turkey's parliament is set to vote on Thursday on whether to send Turkish troops to Libya, to back the UN-recognized government in Tripoli that is battling forces loyal to a rival administration in eastern Libya seeking to capture the country's capital.
The Turkish lawmakers are expected to approve the motion at the emergency session called for later in the day, and grant a one-year mandate for the deployment, despite concerns that Turkish forces could aggravate Libya's conflict further and destabilize the region.
The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) and Eastern Libyan commander General Khalifa Haftar. The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violence rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Turkey’s embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last month plans to send troops to Libya in response to a request from the UN-recognized GNA, which is backed by a plethora of militias including groups linked to al-Qaeda.
Details of the possible Turkish deployment have not been revealed. The motion to be debated in parliament allows the government to decide on the scope, amount and timing of the deployment.
Turkey's main opposition party has made clear it will vote against the motion, saying it would embroil Turkey in another conflict and make it a party to the "shedding of Muslims' blood." It has called on Erdogan's government to search for a diplomatic solution in Libya instead.
However, Erdogan's ruling party is in an alliance with a nationalist party and the two hold sufficient votes for the motion to pass.
The Turkish move raises the stakes in Libya’s civil war, where the Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar, launched an offensive against the GNA in April. Backed by several European powers and moderate Gulf Arab states, Haftar vows to end the rule of Islamist militias.