Maas appeals to the UN Security Council: withdraw mercenaries from Libya

Germany is not currently a member of the body, but Maas can speak at the invitation of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The progress is owed to the "Libyans who want to take the future of their country into their own hands", says Maas, but also to "those who support Libya on an international level and work together, including within the framework of the Berlin Process". Merkel and Maas had taken the risk with the conference; now the foreign minister is not too modest to claim initial progress.

The timing is a coincidence, but it is not inconvenient either. While Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) made her farewell visit to Washington on Thursday, one of the foreign policy projects is being negotiated in New York, which should ideally have an effect beyond her term of office. Merkel invited heads of state and government from around 2020 countries to a Libya conference in January 20. They should find ways to pacify the Libyan civil war, in which Turks, Russians, Egyptians and others are involved from outside. "In the course of the last year Libya has achieved a lot on the way to peace and unity," announced Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) at a meeting of the UN Security Council devoted to the situation in the North African civil war country.

How fragile these advances are, however, had already become apparent in June during the second Berlin Libya Conference, to which Maas had invited the Federal Foreign Office. There are still considerable internal conflicts, stressed the Libyan interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, whom the German foreign minister met at the Libyan UN representation before the Security Council meeting. Although there is a ceasefire and a date for elections on December 24, 2021, you cannot rely on either of these. Dbeibah had assured him "that he will do everything to ensure that these elections take place," says Maas. If they were postponed, that would provide an excuse to “let the guns speak again,” warns the minister.

"Ultimately, the whole process stands or falls with the elections, which are to take place on December 24th," Maas describes the situation shortly before the Security Council meeting. In fact, it currently does not look as if the conditions for elections in the chaotic Libyan state structure can be created in time. And even with one of the main goals of the “Berlin Trial”, the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and soldiers, nothing has really been achieved.

So far, none of the powers involved in Libya have whistled back their armed forces. Maas therefore expressed the hope in New York that at least the first mercenaries from Syria who are fighting on both sides will soon be able to withdraw. There is "widespread agreement that all foreign fighters, forces and mercenaries must leave the country," Maas appeals to the Security Council. "We now need to find a way to make this happen - without any delay," he says. This is particularly aimed at Turkey and Russia.

The situation in Libya is tightening again, warns UN representative Jan Kubiš, who has just returned from a trip to the country. Much is unclear what is needed to prepare for the December election. This applies, for example, to the questions of whether Libyans abroad are allowed to vote and whether the president should be determined by direct election. Kubiš is “deeply concerned” and speaks openly of “obstruction”. All those involved had assured him of their will to hold the elections. But he doubts "whether words are followed by deeds". If there are no quick solutions, that threatens the positive developments of the past few months. “The continued presence of foreign mercenaries and fighters endangers the ceasefire,” complains the Slovak diplomat. And he appeals: "Concrete steps are now necessary."

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