The UN envoy in Libya asks General Haftar for the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries

The Senegalese diplomat said he agreed with Haftar on the need to unify state institutions, including the military, and to promote transparent management of national resources

The United Nations Envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathilymet the general yesterday at the military base of Ar Rajma, just outside Benghazi Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA). Bathily himself reported it in a message on his Twitter profile, explaining that he agreed with the strong man from Cyrenaica "on the need for all parties to participate constructively and without delay in the development of a constitutional framework to facilitate the process election in a transparent and fair way”. Bathily asked the Libyan general to continue supporting the 5+5 Joint Military Committee (made up of five senior officers from the East and the same number from the West) and in particular the action plan regarding the withdrawal of fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries . The Senegalese diplomat said he agreed with Haftar on the need to unify state institutions, including the military, and to promote transparent management of national resources.

An officer of the Gaddafi regime, Haftar was taken prisoner during the war against Chad and became an opponent of the regime. Released in 1990, he spent almost 20 years in the United States acquiring US citizenship. In 2011, he returned to Libya to support the insurgency and in May 2014 he launched Operation Karama (dignity), launching an attack against Islamist militias in Benghazi. Gradually consolidating its control over Cyrenaica, in April 2019 it launched the attack against Tripoli which would then see it defeated, despite the help of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group, thanks to the intervention of Turkey. Since then, he has continued to play a nominal role at the top despite having delegated most of the activities to his two sons, Saddam and Belqasim.

Meanwhile, today Bathily is expected in Cairo, Egypt, where he is expected to meet the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry. Yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, announced that the United Nations envoy for Libya will travel to Rome next week. Furthermore, on 27 February, Bathily will update the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Arab country. For almost a year, Libya has been split between two rival political and military coalitions: on the one hand, the Tripoli-based government of national unity of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, recognized by the international community and supported by Turkey; on the other, the government of Fathi Bashagha, in fact a parallel executive based in Cyrenaica, initially supported by Egypt and Russia but now increasingly abandoned to itself after three attempts (all failed) to take office in the capital manu militari.

The ceasefire reached by the 5+5 Military Committee in October 2020 holds, but mercenaries and foreign fighters brought in from Russia and Turkey are still on the ground. Oil production is stable at 1,2 million barrels of oil per day, while gas exports to Italy are approximately 7 million cubic meters per day. Lastly, Libya represents the main departure platform for illegal migrants attempting to reach European coasts via the dangerous route in the central Mediterranean: just over half of the more than 100 migrants who landed in Italy by sea in 2022 actually departed from the coast of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

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