Turkey tightens its grip over region, extends troop deployment in Libya and oil exploration in Mediterranean

Turkey

With an aim to tighten its grip over the region, Turkey launched two major aggressive moves within a week. On Thursday morning, Turkey’s Official Gazette published the motion passed on December 22, by Turkish Parliament approving the extension of its troop deployment in Libya by next 18 months. Besides, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also authorised resumption of the controversial oil exploration drive in Mediterranean Sea, despite objections from Greece, Cyprus and other European Union members.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies outvoted the opposition in passing of the defence motion with regard to Libya. The proposal said, “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.””Turkey, within the Memorandum of Security and Military Cooperation signed with Libya, will continue to contribute to the training and consultancy support to Libya,” it added. The motion justified that the extension of Turkish troops positioned in Libya would add to maintaining peace in the region.

The cease-fire agreement between the warring sides of Libya was signed in October after some resistance. AKP said that it submitted the proposal on the request of Libya’s UN-recognized government, headed by Fayez al- Sarraj, for military assistance. Ankara entered military pact with Sarraj’s government in late November last year, along with an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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In name of Libya’s security Turkey has been trying to secure its right to explore the oil-rich reservoirs in adjacent Eastern Mediterranean waters. Despite EU sanctions on Turkish personnel, Ankara approved continuation of oil and gas exploration drive of its survey vessel Oruc Reis in territorial waters, otherwise claimed by Greece and Cyprus. To curb the increasingly aggressive moves by Ankara, Athens has been demanding an arms embargo on former. EU would be taking decision against Ankara in March.

“Turkey extended its deployment in Libya because the Turkish government knows there is rapidly increasing cooperation between Greece and regional allies such as Egypt and Israel, as well as the UAE and France,” said Evangelos D. Kokkinos, an geopolitical expert in Athens.He added, “Greece will keep on pressuring the EU for an arms embargo and sanctions against Turkey, and not just against Turkish individuals. A large force of the Greek Navy has been deployed across Greek borders and will defend Greek sovereignty, no matter the cost.”

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