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Mission unbearable: how long will the US leave Libya

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Despite appeals from the international community, on April 7, clashes on the outskirts of Tripoli between the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar and the Government of National Accord (PNS) Fayez Sarraj only intensified.

The National Conference on Inter-Libyan Dialogue, scheduled for April 14–16, was called into question. In this situation, it is not clear who will participate in this forum , Lev Dengov, head of the contact group on intra-Libyan settlement at the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Duma, told Izvestia.

Earlier, the United States announced that its African Command (AFRICOM) would temporarily withdraw its contingent from Libya for security reasons. Experts interviewed by Izvestia are sure that such a decision does not at all mean Washington’s refusal of influence in the country.

Anger vs. Dignity

By Sunday evening, it became clear that the Libyan National Army did not intend to retreat from Tripoli. The forces of Khalifa Haftar launched an attack on the city in several directions at once: from the east, west and south.

The military exacerbation began 10 days before the National Conference on the Inter-Libyan Dialogue, which is due to take place from April 14 to 16 in the city of Ghadames in the north-west of the country. It was assumed that this forum would bring together all the opposing Libyan parties at the negotiating table so that they agreed on the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections.

According to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Libya, Gassan Salam, the conference will be held “on schedule”, despite the escalation. Moscow United Nations attempts to support. Nevertheless, now the effectiveness of the upcoming conference raises questions.

“In this situation, the main players will be busy resolving the conflict, and therefore it is not clear who will participate in this forum,” Lev Dengov told Izvestia. – How effective the conference is is still a big question. Especially considering that at past conferences the parties, although they were close to consensus, still could not agree.

Libya news
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On the evening of April 4, the LNA announced an offensive in Tripoli. According to its official representative Ahmed al-Mismari, the seizure of the city is “not for the sake of armchair, power or money.”

Tripoli is needed for the dignity and prestige of this country, al-Mismari emphasized. At a meeting with UN Secretary General Anthony Guterres in Benghazi on Friday, Khalifa Haftar said his military would not stop the operation until it “defeated terrorism” in the country. At the same meeting, the head of the LNA refused the proposal of Antonio Guterres to hold a meeting in Geneva with Fayez Sarraj, who the day before in an interview with the Secretary General had agreed to such negotiations.

One way or another, despite a conversation with Antonio Guterres and a call by the UN Security Council to avoid a military clash, the LNA nevertheless continued its attack on Tripoli.

“Both sides have already stopped talking about a political settlement,” Orientalist, former diplomat Vyacheslav Matuzov explained to Izvestia. – Now we are talking about who will win this fight. Both Sarraj and Haftar openly declared that they would fight the war to a victorious end. It all depends on who is better prepared for a military decision.

Outside presence

On Sunday, it also became known that due to the security situation in Libya, the United States decided to temporarily withdraw from the country the military of its African command. At the same time, as noted in AFRICOM, the contingent will continue to “monitor the situation on the ground in Libya and assess the possibility of resuming the US military presence, depending on the circumstances.” The mission of the unit includes supporting diplomatic missions, combating terrorism, and strengthening partnerships and security in the region.

Libya news
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In Russia, the US statements about temporary relocation are mistrustful and even skeptical, because they are confident that with the withdrawal of the contingent, the situation with American influence will not change.

“Such words should be interpreted as follows: when the United States speaks of leaving at the time of escalation, this means that they are giving way to those with whom they have previously agreed,” Lev Dengov told Izvestia. – This is done in order to maintain their influence in the place that they leave.

According to the head of the Center for Near and Middle East RISI Vladimir Fitin, US statements are nothing unexpected and fundamentally new. As an expert told Izvestia, in this regard, the words of US President Donald Trump are indicative of leaving Syria within two to three months, which in the end were never realized. Thus, it is too early to draw any conclusions before official confirmation of the redeployment of the US military appears, Vladimir Fitin summed up.

As for the Russian position, Moscow continues to maintain dialogue with all the major forces of the Libyan conflict and insists that a solution be reached exclusively by peaceful political means . At the same time, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday following talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, Moscow is opposed to attempts to “unilaterally appoint perpetrators” in the Libyan conflict. According to the Russian Foreign Minister, both Russia and Egypt advocate that the Libyans themselves “begin an inclusive, business dialogue without any artificial dates that they are trying to impose on them from the outside.”

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