Egypt: The presence of foreign forces, mercenaries in Libya negatively impacts national security

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s call for the “unconditional, simultaneous, and coordinated exit” of all foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya in a speech given during the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting on Thursday.

This, he said, will hasten the political roadmap agreed upon by all sides and end the conflict in the North African country.

“The main problem that impedes Libya in restoring its sovereignty and unity is the presence of foreign forces and mercenaries on its territory, which negatively impacts Libyan national security in particular and the security of its Arab and African neighbors in general,” Shoukry said.

In recent months, Egypt has hosted several rounds of talks between various Libyan factions to mediate a political solution.

Egypt has been pushing for a political settlement in Libya for years, calling for a permanent ceasefire, a complete disarming of all militias, and an end to foreign intervention in the country.

Sameh Shoukry also stressed Egypt’s support for the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC) that has been tasked with ensuring the departure of all foreign forces from the country.

The JMC, which brings together five military officials from the eastern and western camps in the Libyan conflict, is one of the UN-backed entities in Libya that was formed as a result of the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Geneva in October 2020 between the warring parties in the country.

Egypt’s top diplomat asked the parties involved to renew their commitment and support to the implementation of the ceasefire.

“Egypt warned more than a year ago of the consequences of the continuation of the armed conflict in Libya, and that it may have to take measures to protect its national security and preserve the balance of power if it was disrupted,” he added.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s has repeatedly stressed that Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any threat to its national security from Libya, warning on more than one occasion that Cairo would militarily intervene if certain “red lines” were crossed.

Shoukry highlighted that Egypt has persistently urged the two factions in Libya to engage “seriously” in the UN-brokered peace process and implement all international decisions specifying the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libyan soil.

However, the international community has not taken “firm” measures to end such a problem, he said, calling for a “united and staunch” stance in support of the JMC.

“The continued foreign military presence in Libya provides an unstable incubation environment for terrorism and extremism that allows the movement of terrorist elements in the region,” Shoukry warned.

The Egyptian minister urged all countries that have fighters and mercenaries deployed in Libya to withdraw them and punish their supporters, employers, and those who facilitated their transit and movement across international borders.

Earlier in September, Libya’s eastern-based parliament approved a law allowing a presidential election to take place in December, however, the step was not completely welcomed by Tripoli’s High Council of State, an advisory body formed under the terms of the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement of 2015.

Shoukry’s speech comes as political forces in east and west Libya continue to disagree on the constitutional grounds for holding the presidential and parliamentary elections, which are scheduled in December and are a key step in completing the road map to end the years-old conflict and restore normalcy.

Last year, the two camps signed a ceasefire in Geneva; and earlier this year, an interim government was established through internationally sponsored negotiations to guide the country towards the national elections in December.

The Egyptian foreign minister also praised the efforts exerted by the Libyan parliament in preparing the laws of the long-awaited elections.


Arab Observer

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