Tripoli (AP) – Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas paid a short visit to Libya to support the peace process in the North African country after many years of civil war.
“The former parties to the conflict have recognized that there can be no violent solution for your country,” the SPD politician said on Thursday before arriving in the capital Tripoli. “With concerted diplomacy, the international community and the United Nations have helped open the door to a better future for Libya.”
The reason for the trip is the reopening of the German Embassy in Tripoli. In July 2014, all German diplomats were withdrawn from Tripoli. The German representation for Libya has been temporarily installed in Tunis. “With the reopening today, we want to show that Germany is and will remain a committed partner of Libya. We want to have a local voice again in the Libyan capital, ”Maas said.
A ceasefire has been in place in Libya since 2020
After the overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya sank into a civil war in which many militias are involved. However, a ceasefire has been in effect since last year. This spring, a transitional government was formed under UN mediation to lead the country to the December 24 elections. Among other things, due to a month-long dispute on the constitutional basis, the hope that this deadline can be met is dwindling more and more.
Germany has assumed the role of mediator in the decade-long conflict. Last year, the German government organized a large summit in Berlin with the aim of ending the interference of other countries in the conflict with arms deliveries and mercenaries. Participants included key players in Libya such as Russia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
However, there are still thousands of foreign fighters in the country. Two weeks ago, a UN report said: “Foreign forces and mercenaries continue to operate in Libya without any notable decline in their activities.
There are currently between 15,000 and 18,000 foreign soldiers and mercenaries in the country, said Libyan expert Jalel Harchaoui of the Dutch Clingersael Institute of the German News Agency. According to his information, there are also thousands of Sudanese, Syrian and Russian mercenaries, as well as about 800 Turkish soldiers in several military bases and 200 Russian soldiers. Besides Turkey and Russia, Egypt is also involved in the conflict.
7,000 Syrian mercenaries in Libya
“Heiko Maas will be disappointed if he seeks any form of progress, especially with the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign troops. Nobody left, ”Harchaoui said. Only some of the Sudanese mercenaries returned home. The country’s 7,000 or so Syrian mercenaries are often paid too late and worse than promised. But “Syria is hell”. To them, Libya resembles “Canada” to the Syrian homeland.
Maas had expressed hope in July that the Syrian mercenaries would withdraw in the coming weeks. “It would be the first step towards a large-scale withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya. Without these forces, civil war can no longer break out, ”he said during a visit to the United Nations in New York.