Monday, May 20

US, UN Warn Libyan Factions: Military Movements could Lead to Escalation

UN Special Envoy Jan Kubiš and US Ambassador Norland.

Tripoli_ The United States of America and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called on Wednesday on all parties in Libya to refrain from any mobilization or deployment of security elements and troops that may be perceived as an escalation and may undermine the implementation of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement.

On his part, Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland spoke by phone with Presidential Council President Mohamed Menfi on Thursday and made it clear that any military movements any party could lead to escalation and undermine the implementation of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, according to the US Embassy in Libya.

This comes amid alleged mobilization of troops by all parties in the central region of Libya where the fault lines stretch to the desert in the south and overlap with the agreed upon ceasefire lines.  

In its statement, UNSMIL urged all parties to respect the lines of demarcation as they were at the time of the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement last year.

UNSMIL renewed its support to the efforts of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission aimed at mainining calm and stability and urges all parties in Libya to support these efforts in order to create a peaceful and conducive environment for the holding of national elections on 24 December 2021.

Norland and Menfi reiterated their shared commitment to holding December elections on time to meet the Libyan peoples’ expectation of free and fair elections in support of a stable, unified, and democratic Libya.

Turkey is the only country that seems to be putting obstacles against a smooth implementation of the Libyan political process which the international community has agreed upon in Berlin Conference I and II. Due to its heavy military presence which include both members of regular Turkish army and thousands of Syrian mercenaries, Turkey has influenced political factions in western Libya through close coordination with dominant militias in the capital Tripoli and hence it has hindered the process in one way or another, according to observers.

On 12 August, Mr. Norland made a two-day visit to Ankara and met with senior Turkish officials in furtherance of US efforts to support Libyan parliamentary and presidential elections in December. He underlined to these officials the urgency of establishing the constitutional basis and legal framework needed for the elections, according to the US Embassy in Libya.

“The United States supports the right of the Libyan people to select their leaders through an open democratic process free of outside pressure and calls on key figures to use their influence at this critical stage to do what is best for all Libyans,” Norland told Turkish officials.

On 14 August, the Joint Military Commission 5+5 called on the Presidential Council and the Government of National Unity to “freeze all military agreements and memoranda of understanding with any foreign country or entity in all parts of Libya without exception, especially memoranda of understanding with Turkey and Russia”.

The JMC also asked the PC and GNU to officially announce this freeze until the elections of the president takes place by the Libyan people directly. It said this would enable the JMC to start implementing the procedures leading into the departure of all mercenaries and foreign military forces from the country.

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