Arab League on Libya: foreign forces should withdraw troops

A 14-point resolution ratified by the Arab League asks all foreign forces to immediately withdraw from Libya. This declaration seems to be in favour of comments by Egyptian President Sisi hinting at a future military incursion into Libya.

Arab League on Libya

The Arab League on Tuesday called for the withdrawal of foreign forces in Libya and urged for talks on ending the conflict in the north African country.

The virtual meeting, held at Egypt’s request, comes amid a flaring conflict in neighbouring Libya between a UN-recognised government in the country’s west and eastern-based forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.

21 Countries attended Arab League meeting on Libya

It was attended by representatives from 21 Arab countries including Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which had opposed the meeting earlier this week.

The 14-clause resolution submitted by the Arab League provided for “rejecting all illegitimate foreign interventions” in Libya and called for “the withdrawal of all foreign forces on Libyan territories and its regional waters.”

Read more: Libya cautions Egypt in wake of Sisi comments

Libya’s representative, Saleh al-Shamakhi, expressed reservations on the Arab League’s call, saying that foreign forces backing the GNA helped roll back the “aggression” by Haftar’s forces.

The Turkish-backed GNA has recently made major military gains against Haftar’s forces, who have sought to regain control over the west in an abortive attempt to seize Tripoli.

Meeting comes in wake of Sisi comments

Egypt, which backs Haftar, has warned that advances by Turkey-backed forces on the strategic Libyan city of Sirte could prompt an Egyptian military intervention.

The GNA denounced Sisi’s statements as a “declaration of war”.

Libya’s High Council of State on Monday warned the Egyptian army against a high-stakes military gamble in the conflict-ridden country. Libya has cautioned Egypt over use of military force, after comments from Egypt’s president were construed as hinting upon an Egyptian military campaign in Libya.

Read more: As proxy war heats up, Libya is in danger of becoming next Syria

Earlier this month, Cairo proposed a peace initiative calling for a ceasefire, withdrawal of mercenaries and disbanding militias in the neighbouring country.

The proposal was dismissed by the GNA and Ankara.

“We urge the Egyptian army not to be dragged into a gamble, whose fate will be similar to previous gambles like the case in Yemen,” the Libyan council said in a statement.

Arab league backs Egyptian President’s comments on Libya

On Tuesday, the Arab League welcomed Egypt’s proposal and urged Libyan factions to “positively engage” with such initiatives.

Shamakhi also voiced reservations on the call, saying the GNA was not invited to be part of Cairo’s initiative. He added that “whoever wants to mediate… should not be siding with one party over the other”.

Read more: France wants NATO to take cognizance of ‘Turkey problem’ in Libya

Tunisia, Qatar and Somalia expressed reservations on the clauses criticised by Libya.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Besides Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia back Haftar’s forces.

About the civil war in Libya

Oil-rich Libya has been in chaos since the Arab spring movement and Nato bombing campaign that toppled Gaddafi in 2011. Attempts to build a democratic state after Gaddafi fell disintegrated into a new civil war between rival governments in 2014.

Read more: UN orders probe of abuses in Libya conflict

Since 2014 the fighting has mainly been between rival centres of political power in east and west Libya: the Tripoli administration, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Sarraj, and the Tobruk administration, which decamped to the eastern city after disputed elections. The Tobruk government appointed Haftar to lead the Libyan National Army (LNA) and restore its sovereignty.

While the GNA is officially recognised by the UN as Libya’s legitimate government, and is backed by Turkey, it holds little power on the ground, and some distrust its politics. Haftar’s supporters say he is a bulwark against extremism, while others see him as another would-be military dictator.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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