The Turkish Parliament voted Tuesday to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in war-torn Libya who are fighting on behalf of the internationally recognized government.
"There are threats from Libya to Turkey and the entire region, and if attacks resume again, Turkey's interests in the Mediterranean basin and North Africa will be adversely affected," read the measure extending the deployment by 18 months.
The move had the support of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party, with opposition parties voting against it.
The North African country descended into chaos amid a 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed longtime dictator Moammar al-Gadhafi. Libya is now ruled by two administrations, each supported by foreign backers who have flooded the country with illegal arms and mercenaries.
Khalifa Hifter’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) enjoys support from Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the Government of National Accord (GNA) is backed by Turkey and Qatar. Ankara has also enlisted thousands of Syrian rebels to join the fight against Hifter.
In January, Turkish troops were deployed to Libya on a year-long mandate after an agreement was struck between Ankara and the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government. Turkish support helped the GNA quash a year-long LNA-led offensive on the capital of Tripoli this summer.
Following UN-facilitated talks in Geneva, the warring parties reached a “permanent” cease-fire in October that called for foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libyan territory.
Ankara signed a maritime accord last year with the UN-backed GNA, increasing regional tensions over the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean Sea. Turkey says it has rights to waters that are home to potential offshore gas reserves and where Cyprus, Greece and Egypt also claim jurisdiction. The territorial dispute escalated this summer after Turkey deployed its Oruc Reis research vessel to conduct exploratory work near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.