20,000 Foreign Fighters Threaten Libyan Ceasefire
Some 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries remain in Libya despite a United Nations agreement brokered between the two warring parties in the country torn apart by civil war. Stephanie Williams, the top UN official negotiating cease-fire attempts in Libya, warned of a “serious crisis” and called the situation “a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty … a blatant violation of the arms embargo,” during an online meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. UN experts note that the rival sides have brought more weaponry into the country as well as fighters from Russia, Syria, Sudan and Chad to supplement their own forces ahead of a deadline set by a cease-fire deal signed in October for foreign forces to leave Libya. Libya is bifurcated by rival administrations, each supported by militias and foreign powers. Military commander Khalifa Hifter – backed by the UAE, Russia, Jordan and Egypt – rules the east and south, while a UN-supported government based in the capital of Tripoli – supported by Qatar and Turkey – controls the western side of the country. Rival political Islamic movements are fueling the war and hampering a cease-fire, pitting Egypt and the UAE against Turkey and Qatar.