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Monday, February 6, 2023

How will Libya’s foreign minister remove foreign mercenaries?

International powers have made progress since the Berlin Conference on the expulsion of foreign fighters from Libya.

Libya has seen little stability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, but America took control and intervened in the UN-led peace process since the war, but the intervention was the strongest. Since 2019, it has led to a ceasefire after the fighting between the rival factions stopped, to the formation of a new national unity government after the Berlin Conference. But the final statement issued by the UN-backed conference did not specify any concrete new measures, causing instability in the country.

The aim of the meeting in Berlin was to make progress on the removal of mercenaries and other foreign forces from Libya, the ceasefire to their withdrawal, as well as on steps towards securing the December 2021 elections.

Turkey and Russia, which support the conflicting parties in Libya because they want more benefit in oil or the purchase of weapons, and the sessions confirmed the conference to a preliminary understanding to work towards the goal of withdrawing 300 Syrian mercenaries from each side. The struggle is to prepare for the stability of the state. But Chadian and Sudanese foreign fighters will remain there. Haftar also gained support from the UAE, Russia, and Egypt in his offensive on Tripoli in 2014, which eventually helped them repel the attack.

These moves seek a political solution in Libya after the eastern leader Khalifa Haftar’s attack on Tripoli in 2020. The front line around the port city of Sirte was reinforced and a ceasefire was agreed, participants in the UN peace dialogue set a new interim government and allow elections in December to go ahead and approve his government’s budget.

Libyan delegates, 75 representatives, began talks about the agreement during Geneva to create the legal conditions for elections that they hope will “begin a new era” for the North African country for presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for December 24 in Libya.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Libya stressed that it is unfortunate that the issue has not been resolved, and that leaving without a decision “is not an option” given the specified timetable, as has called for overcoming differences and any lack of confidence that creates a gap. It is possible to work constructively to fill the remaining gaps through compromise. Some delegates are also skeptical about the level of commitment and point out that armed groups still retain power on the ground, which could undermine the integrity of the vote/elections.

It is necessary to reach a consensus that serves Libya, brings us out of the crisis, achieves stability, and turns the economy around again to start an era in which democracy, the civil state, and justice will begin. Elections are the only way to ensure peace and stability in Libya.

Emmanuel Macron’s plan to get mercenaries out of Libya

French President Emmanuel Macron presented a plan to remove mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya, at the meeting of the Group of Seven, before presenting it to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the NATO summit in Brussels.

First stage: The withdrawal of the Syrian mercenaries supported by Turkey, followed by the withdrawal of the fighters backed by Russia and the regular Turkish forces, according to a six-month timetable for the beginning of security stability.

Turkey will first withdraw the Syrian mercenaries it sent to Libya in 2020, when the Tripoli government requested assistance, and this step could be done as soon as July 1 and this is what has been implemented.

Second stage: in September Russia withdraws its own militia from the “Wagner” group. This may be the most difficult step because the private militias associated with Russia exist illegally, and Turkish forces were invited to the country by the Libyan Government of National Accord.

The third stage: is the reunification of the Libyan security forces divided between the Tripoli government and the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.

This plan is an attempt to move the stalled efforts to remove foreign fighters from Libya, after the failure of the cease-fire agreement that was reached between Libyan parties under the auspices of the United Nations stipulated the necessity of the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, and that number of mercenaries and foreign forces on Libyan soil is estimated to more of the twenty thousand, including 13 thousand Syrians. In the next stages, we hope that Libya will witness security stability and democracy.

Miral Sabry AlAshry
Miral Sabry AlAshry
An Associate Professor at Future University in Egypt(FUE), Political Mass Media Department. Author of the book - The Struggle for Libya. Contributor to The Eastern Herald from Egypt.

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