US urges Russia and Turkey to leave war-ravaged Libya
Posted – 29th January 2021
Biden administration takes tough line on foreign meddling in Libya
All foreign forces and mercenaries must leave war-torn Libya in support of the country’s fragile peace process, a top US official said on Thursday – the first such statement under the Biden administration.
Addressing UN Security Council talks, US envoy Richard Mills said Russia and Turkey were breaching a ceasefire deal agreed to in October last year that ordered all foreign troops and mercenaries out of Libya by January 23.
“The external actors who have militarily intervened in this conflict have wholly, completely ignored Libyan demands,” Mr Mills said.
“Per the October ceasefire agreement, we call on Turkey and Russia to immediately initiate the withdrawal of their forces from the country and the removal of the foreign mercenaries and military proxies that they have recruited, financed, deployed and supported in Libya.”
Libya descended into chaos after the 2011 Nato-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Qaddafi. The ceasefire agreement and elections planned for December raised hopes of peace between the country’s rival administrations in the east and the west.
In Tripoli in the west, the Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey. In the east, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces is supported by the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit, Egypt and others.
Under the previous administration of Donald Trump, the US largely stood back from the Libya conflict and while nominally backing the government in Tripoli, also engaged with eastern forces and commanders.
At the same meeting, Stephanie Williams, a UN envoy to Libya, said that weapons and soldiers continued to flow into Libya in breach of a UN arms embargo and after the exit deadline for mercenaries and foreign fighters.
“I am concerned by continued fortifications and defensive positions created by the LAAF inside Gardabiya Airbase in Sirte and along the Sirte-Jufra axis in central Libya,” said Ms Williams, referring to the front lines between Libya’s rival forces.
“Air cargo activities continued with flights reaching Libya’s western region and GNA military bases and airbases. In the southern region, there was an increase in assets and activities in the airbases seemingly aimed at strengthening LAAF presence and control.”
This week, Libyans working on a UN peace process agreed on how to choose a new temporary governmentto oversee the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24. The fraught process is at risk of falling apart because of factional rivalries.
THE NATIONAL – James Reini
The Libya Consultancy does not imply any association with, nor endorsement by or of the publisher of this article