Published On: Sun, Dec 6th, 2020

Political Solution In Limbo: 20,000 Foreign Fighters Remain

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By Janet Ekstract

ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – If the Libya Political Dialogue Forum  (LPDF) is to be successful then it would stand to reason that a previous United Nations arms embargo must be honored.  Despite what appeared to be a successful meeting of the LPDF in Tunis – United Nations Support Mission In Libya (UNSMIL) Special Envoy Stephanie Williams said it’s a “shocking violation” of Libyan sovereignty to see multitudes of fighters and she added, “a blatant violation of the arms embargo.” Williams conveyed her message to a recent online meeting of the LPDF.

Meanwhile, there are at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya. Last Wednesfay, a UN official reported a “serious crisis” in Libya as weapons continue arriving there. The 75-member LPDF are attempting to get Libya ‘s warring factions to agree on establishing a transitional administration to rule Libya through presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2021.

The LPDF has had ongoing meetings under the auspices of the UN in an effort to end the longstanding conflict in the North African nation. Williams who spoke to Al-Jazeera, explained: “It is incumbent upon all actors to respect Libyan requests for them to depart the country so that Libyans can come together, so that the ceasefire can actually be implemented,  that military forces can withdraw. “Williams made it clear that time is running out, commenting: “There is now a constituency of change in the country to come together.  There are well-justiified fears, a justified lack of confidence between the different parties.  But the country is slipping away.” UN experts report that thousands of foreign forces including Russians,  Syrians, Sudanese and fighters from Chad were brought in by rival sides.  Williams condemned the foreign governments responsible without identifying them, for what she termed as “behaving with complete impunity.”

One thing is clear: Libya remains in limbo despite political dialogue and the conflict far from over.  Besides the influx of foreign fighters, Williams gave a dire warning about what she termed as the imminent “collapse of the electrical grid” in Libya due to corruption and mismanagement. The special envoy said a $1 billion investment in infrastructure must happen immediately since only 13 of Libya ‘s 27 power plants are operational.

As it stands, Libya is once again at a crossroads but this time it’s as if the two sides despite appearing to desire a political solution, continue to remain ready for a fight to the finish should everything fall through. The only losers are those who’ve always lost – the Libyans themselves.  Experts and observers have commented that the Libya Political Dialogue Forum  doesn’t represent all parties in Libya who also have a stake in a political solution but who were not invited to the negotiating table.

As Libya ‘s Special Envoy Stephanie Williams warned, time is of the essence and so is the opportunity to lay down the ‘sword’ on both sides. She also cautioned that in January, an estimated 1.3 million Libyans in a country of close to 7 million, will require humanitarian assistance. If the ceasefire isn’t honored, the number of those needing humanitarian aid could increase to over 2 million with a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

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