AFRICOM’s General Townsend Meets with Sarraj, Stresses Need to Stop Extremism Threat – Al Marsad

The new commander of US AFRICOM, General Stephen Townsend, accompanied by the new US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland, met in Tunis with the head of the Tripoli-based Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, and discussed issues related to Libya’s security and terrorism situation. 

[Libya, 27 August 2019] – The official statement released today by US AFRICOM said that the meeting was to “build new relationships and assess the situation in Libya” and it stressed the concern of addressing “the existing violent extremist organization threat, and the need to resolve the conflict in Libya.”

The new commander of US AFRICOM, General Stephen Townsend said: “We emphasized to Prime Minister Sarraj the importance of supporting a diplomatic solution to put an end to the current conflict.” He said he would meet with UNSMIL head, Ghassan Salamé and “discuss ways the U.S. military might continue to cooperate with the UN in support of a political settlement in Libya.”

“We are committed to open and transparent dialogue on this urgent security issue,” he said.

Furthermore, given the current conflict situation in Libya, Gen. Townsend stressed “the importance of ensuring the violent extremist organization threat is contained and does not create additional instability in Libya and the region.”

Townsend also said that it was “important to ensure violent extremist organizations do not feel they can use circumstances in Libya to create chaos and further their objectives,” said Townsend. “This was a mutual area of interest and point of discussion during our meetings. Close cooperation is important to address the VEO threat.”

The statement from US AFRICOM concluded by saying that it “continues to monitor conditions in Libya and assess the feasibility for a renewed U.S. military presence once the security environment permits doing so.”

Given the worrying development of the increasing number of extremist fighters from Syrian and other conflict zones joining the ranks of GNA-affiliated militias, remarks by the new commander of US AFRICOM General Stephen Townsend come at a critical time, and his words will be particularly worrisome to members of the Presidential Council and the High Council of State.

© Al Marsad English (2019).