Last Saturday, France presented the United States with a plan to remove mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya.
The plan, published by “Politico” newspaper, proposes first withdrawing the Syrian mercenaries backed by Turkey, followed by withdrawing the fighters backed by Russia and regular Turkish forces, according to a six-month timetable.
Officials also said French President Emmanuel Macron had pitched the idea directly to his counterparts in the United States and Turkey. He also discussed it with US President Joe Biden, last Saturday, at the meeting of the Group of Seven, before presenting it to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, at the NATO summit in Brussels.
“President Erdogan has confirmed his desire for foreign mercenaries and militias to leave Libyan territory as soon as possible,” Macron said.
The first step on May 1
Under Macron’s plan, Turkey will first withdraw the Syrian mercenaries it sent to Libya in 2020, when the Tripoli government requested assistance, and the move could take place as soon as July 1.
The proposed second phase for September will also see Russia withdraw its own militia from the Wagner Group. This may be the most difficult step, given that Turkish forces have been invited into the country by the Libyan Government of National Accord, while private militias linked to Russia are present illegally.
The third stage proposes the reunification of the Libyan security forces, which are divided between the Tripoli government and the Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar.
Two page proposal
The two-page proposal is an attempt to move the stalled efforts to remove foreign fighters from Libya, after the failure of the ceasefire agreement reached in October last year between the Libyan parties under the auspices of the United Nations stipulated the necessity of the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries by January, but that This date has passed without any solution being found.
In contrast, the Biden administration has not commented on the French proposal, but US officials have acknowledged that they are working to secure the withdrawal of foreign fighters from Libya.
13,000 Syrian mercenaries
“We are consulting with a range of Libyan and international partners to urge full respect for the Libyan ceasefire agreement and to call for the removal of foreign elements,” a senior administration official said.
It is noteworthy that Western diplomats confirmed, according to what Agence France-Presse reported last April, that the number of mercenaries and foreign forces on Libyan soil is estimated at “more than twenty thousand, including 13 thousand Syrians.”
The file of the foreign presence and mercenaries constitutes a substance of contention between some Libyan parties, although the government has announced more than once its approval of their exit, according to what was reached in many dialogues that took place previously under the auspices of the United Nations.