Tensions in Libya have escalated in recent months, specifically between Egypt and Turkey. Egypt is backing the Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and Turkey has sent mercenaries and fighters to help the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Serraj.
On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his country would not stand idle. “As soon as Egypt interferes in Libya, the military scene will change quickly and decisively,” al-Sisi added, according to the presidency.
As for Russia’s military interference in the Libyan war, “particularly the Russian Ministry of Defense surrogates Wagner Group fighting alongside and in support of LNA forces – is documented and poses a security threat to Europe and the region.”
The UN has previously said that Russia’s Wagner company had more than 1,000 mercenaries in Libya and the US military says Moscow has sent fighter jets to support them.
A Russian-flagged oil tanker is seen in Tripoli Naval Base after it was captured. (File Photo: Reuters)
“Russia’s military activities in Libya exacerbate social and political rifts and increase the potential for mass casualties, including civilians, with destabilizing consequences for the region, including NATO’s southern flank,” the State Department official said.
On Wednesday, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it had “clear evidence that Russian employed, state-sponsored Wagner Group laid landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in and around Tripoli, further violating the United Nations arms embargo and endangering the lives of innocent Libyans.”
Although Russia has denied using mercenaries abroad, Russian private military contractors have clandestinely fought in support of Russian forces in Syria and Ukraine, Reuters and other media have previously reported. The contractors are recruited by the Wagner Group, whose members are mostly ex-service personnel.
The State Department official said, “Ultimately, the Libyan people must resolve this crisis through UN-facilitated political negotiations, aimed toward national elections.”