U.S. calls on Russia, Turkey to withdraw from Libya

U.S. calls on Russia, Turkey to withdraw from Libya

The United States has urged Turkey, Russia and the United Arab Emirates to immediately halt their military intervention in Libya and withdraw military personnel. 

According to a United Nations-backed truce signed in October, foreign fighters had to quit the country within three months. That deadline expired on Saturday.

Acting U.S. ambassador Richard Mills called on all foreign parties to respect Libyan sovereignty during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday.

However Libya’s warring sides signed an agreement for a permanent ceasefire in all areas of the country on Oct.23, bringing a possible end to a year-long battle for the capital Tripoli. The agreement concluded in Geneva after talks between military representatives of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Mills urged Turkey and Russia to begin withdrawing military personnel and to remove foreign mercenaries and armed proxies that they recruited, financed, deployed, and supported in Libya.

These latest developments are likely to prompt Turkey and the UAE to focus on how they will deal with the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. 

The opposing sides in Libya – the GNA in Tripoli and renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the country’s east - are receiving help from an estimated 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries, Al Jazeera reported.

Turkey is backing the Tripoli-based GNA, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, in its fight against rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled LNA forces, which are supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, among others.

Turkey’s increased military involvement in Libya since December 2019 - through the deployment of military and intelligence personnel, delivery of drones, and the dispatching of hundreds of mercenaries from Syria - tipped the balance of the conflict in favour of the GNA. 

Last month, the Turkish parliament approved a bill that granted an 18-month extension for troops to be deployed in Libya.