Libya: foreign military presence issue / News / News agency Inforos
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Libya: foreign military presence issue

Russia advocates a synchronized withdrawal of all the foreign military formations from Libya

Libya: foreign military presence issue

On July 15, Prime Minister of Libya's transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh had talks with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York and secured full-throated support for preparing and holding a general election in December 2021. The meeting took place on the sidelines of a UN Security Council ad hoc session dedicated to issues of resolving that country's crisis and providing international support to its authorities.

The talks also involved UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Libya Jan Kubiš, who said in the aftermath that some parties were trying to lay down preliminary conditions that might prevent the timely holding of elections.

Before leaving, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh held a meeting with heads of diplomatic missions of Arab states at the Libyan mission in New York, in the course of which he shared the government 's short-term performance plans and urged to step up support.

Later, on July 17, the Libyan Prime Minister delivered a short message to his supporters in Tripoli, focusing on the transitional government's broad international support in its endeavors to implement recommendations of the two Berlin conferences, as a kind of road map ahead of elections.

In turn, the Arab countries leaked information that the meeting at the Libyan mission in New York saw Dbeibeh declare his determination to seek the withdrawal of all the foreign troops, mercenaries and militants from the country, the disarmament of illegal armed groups and the creation of a regular army.

He informed the Arab ambassadors about being ready to hold direct talks with commander of the Libyan National Army Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the near future, involving head of the Libyan Parliament Aqil Salih and Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council Mohamed al-Menfi, to arrive at consensus on the constitutional platform, the appointment of the Minister of Defense, and the formation of an army. On top of the agenda there should be development of a common attitude to beginning an accelerated and unconditional withdrawal of all the foreign formations from Libya, as a fundamental step towards GNU's further action.

It should be emphasized that Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh also negotiated with US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield in New York. The American expressed concern about possibilities of maintaining a foreign military presence and mercenaries in Libya – a problem that worries Europe and Libya's neighboring countries, including Turkey that is unwilling to withdraw. She assured the Libyan leader that the United States will diligently seek a solution to this problem.

In his turn, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at the Istanbul National Defense University on the night of July 17, said the following: "The successes we have achieved in the diplomatic and military fields have turned the cards over not only in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, but also across the globe." The rest of his speech was devoted to the fact that Turkey advocates Libya's territorial integrity and sovereignty, striving to ensure its national security by all means.

Erdogan reiterated he was not going to curtail the military presence of either Turkey or its loyal fighters in Libya, as stipulated by the agreement of November 27, 2019with the former government led by Fayez al-Sarraj. Gambling on its military cooperation provisions, the Turkish leader seeks to justify the deployment of up to 10 thousand Syrian fighters hired by the Turks in Libya meant to ensure their military and political interests in that North African country. Erdogan relates their involvement to the presence of some two thousand Russian military advisers and specialists in the south-east of Libya, who are engaged in professionally training soldiers of Khalifa Haftar's army and securing oil and gas fields.

Russia's attitude to the foreign military presence in Libya was expressed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin. Moscow is not engaged in any talks with Ankara on the issue, assuming that a political settlement in Libya is highly challenging amid a foreign military presence. At the same time, Russia stands for a synchronized withdrawal of all the non-Libyan military formations without violating the balance of forces which has been facilitating a lull over the year.

Turkey will unlikely take this step voluntarily. However, the main progress in the settlement process was still manifested by the fact that the transitional government head had come up with his stance, intending to establish direct relations with Libya's Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

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