US Ambassador Calls for Ending the Presence of Syrians, Turks, and Russians in Libya – Al Marsad

US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland said in special briefing that the US principled position on Libya is that the Libyan conflict needs to stop. He said ending the conflict will stop the destabilizing impact of foreign intervention, allow humanitarian action to counter the spread of the COVID-19, and alleviate the suffering of the Libyans in terms of the unbearable increase in the civilian casualties and the displacement.

(Libya, 5 June 2020) – Speaking at an event organized by the Dubai Regional Center at the US State Department, Norland added that the situation in Libya has developed significantly in recent weeks, indicating that the Government of National Accord (GNA) has taken control of several regions thanks to Turkish military support.

He also accused Russia of sending Wagner’s mercenaries and currently repositioning them away from the front lines of the fighting south of Tripoli, pointing to US concern about the possibility of a continued escalation in Libya, especially after Russia delivered warplanes to Libya as revealed by AFRICOM in its statement last week, as well as the continued flow of Turkish military materiel and other forms of support for the GNA.

“Our messages to both the GNA and the Libyan National Army (LNA) have always been that we need to seize the current opportunity to return to the UN-led 5+5 discussions. That agreement, which both sides had the opportunity to review, is the ideal opportunity to establish a permanent ceasefire. For this effort to be truly successful, the parties involved in those negotiations must demonstrate goodwill and the leadership on both sides should give the negotiating committees the necessary powers,” asserted Norland.

Regarding the US position on Turkish influence in the conflict, he said: “Our basic position is that the time has come for all mercenaries and foreign forces to start ending the escalation and leave Libya. If there is one slogan that we want to implement today, it is ‘Libya for Libyans’.”

He went on to say: “As for Turkey, we must remember that the real escalation in this conflict began with the intervention of Wagner’s forces from Russia in October and the Turkish intervention was a reaction to that. Now that the situation on the ground has almost been settled, we reiterate our message that foreign intervention must stop to allow Libyan parties to come to the negotiating table. We do not believe that Libya wants to be occupied by any foreigner, be it Russian, Turkish, or even an ideological movement.”

At the end of his speech, the US ambassador emphasized the focus of his country’s efforts on trying to end the escalation and get all foreign elements out, whether they were Russian or Syrian mercenaries, stating that the best way to do so is to end the conflict through the ceasefire mechanism, the meeting of the 5+5 committees, and the UN-led application of the Berlin outcome. He asserted the US conviction that the international community has realized today that the time has come to end this conflict.

© Al Marsad English (2020)