Arab League, UN, EU and AU demand foreign forces leave Libya

The UN estimates that some 20,000 foreign fighters, mainly troops from Turkey and mercenaries from Russia, Syria, Chad and Sudan, are currently deployed in the country.
Wednesday 21/04/2021
A 2019 file picture shows a fighter holding a rocket propelled grenade launcher near the Salah al-Din military compound, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. AFP
A 2019 file picture shows a fighter holding a rocket propelled grenade launcher near the Salah al-Din military compound, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)

UN / NEW YORK--The Arab League, United Nations, European Union and the African Union on Tuesday demanded an immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya.

In a statement after a videoconference by its leaders, the so-called “Libya Quartet” demanded “full compliance with the arms embargo and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from the entirety of Libya’s territory.”

The much-violated arms embargo has been in place since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime Libyan ruler Mummar Gadhafi.

The UN estimates that some 20,000 foreign fighters, mainly troops from Turkey and mercenaries from Russia, Syria, Chad and Sudan, are currently deployed in the country.

In recent weeks, the possible departure of Syrian mercenaries has been raised and this weekend, N’Djamena mentioned the arrival in Chad from Libya of several hundred Chadian mercenaries who may have contributed to the fighting that led to the death of President Idriss Deby.

During its meeting, the Libya Quartet “condemned the continued violations of the UN arms embargo and emphasised that all external military intervention in Libya is unacceptable.”

It also called for “the sustained implementation of measures to fully identify and dismantle these groups.”

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council authorised international monitors to watch over a nearly six-month-old cease-fire agreement in Libya as the country heads towards December elections after a decade of fighting and upheaval.

In a vote last Friday, the council unanimously approved Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent proposal for up to 60 monitors to join the existing UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

The measure also urges all foreign forces and mercenaries to get out of the country, as was supposed to have happened months ago.

Jan Kubis, UN special envoy for Libya has urged foreign forces and mercenaries to leave the conflict-stricken country as demanded in last year’s cease-fire agreement.

“Their withdrawal from Libya will go a long way in reconstituting the unity and sovereignty of the country and healing the deep wounds caused by many years of internal strife, active conflict and foreign interference,” he said.

Guterres has told the Security Council that he “remains deeply concerned” that “foreign elements” continue to operate in Libya.