North Africa

UN special envoy ‘angry’ at foreign meddling in Libya

The United Nations special envoy to Libya on Monday said he was “angry” at foreign interference in the war-torn country, as the Security Council expressed concern at the recent escalation in fighting.

“I am really angry to see that everybody wants to talk about Libya and very few people want to talk about the Libyans, what happens to the Libyans,” Ghassan Salame said after a two-hour meeting with the UN Security Council.

“Enough is enough, the Libyans have suffered enough,” he added.

Asked about Turkey’s decision to deploy troops in Libya to support the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Salame responded that the “country is suffering too much from foreign interferences in different ways.”

“What I asked these countries is very clear: keep out of Libya. There is enough weapons in Libya, they don’t need extra weapons.

“There are enough mercenaries in Libya, so stop sending mercenaries, as it is the case right now,” he said, estimating the number of foreign fighters in the country to be in the “hundreds, probably thousands.”

The Security Council held a closed-door meeting on Libya on Monday and after the session with Salame, expressed concern at the spike in unrest.

“The council reiterates the need to comply with the [UN] arms embargo and cease foreign interference,” it said in a statement.

Russia has denied direct involvement with Russian mercenaries who are reported to have been operating in Libya since last summer in support of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is battling the Tripoli government and whose forces said on Monday they had taken control of the coastal city of Sirte.

“Get out of the Libya nightmare,” said Salame, reminding members of an arms embargo on the country since 2011, when an uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“That’s what I am asking all the countries to remain outside this situation because there is no military solution.”

Salame also criticised the Security Council’s failure to reach an agreement on a ceasefire resolution, which it has been trying to draw up since April.

“Libya is not only a geopolitical story, it is also a human story. And people are suffering. But there is no international clear message,” the special envoy said.

Asked about the timing of an international conference called by Germany and which is provisionally slated for the end of January, Salame said he hoped the gathering would be held “as soon as possible.”

A diplomatic source said a scheduled meeting in Moscow on Saturday between German leader Angela Merkel and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could prove decisive to the conference if Putin agreed to attend. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also been invited.

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