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Mercenaries, foreign fighters threaten Libya's fragile transition

Both sides of the Libyan conflict have so far failed to agree on the departure of foreign fighters from Libya as required by the country’s political settlement document known as the road map; it appears the issue rests with Moscow and Ankara.
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush speaks, as her counterparts (R to L) French Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Heiko Maas and Italian Luigi Di Maio listen, during a press conference, Tripoli, Libya, March 25, 2021.
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Libya’s foreign minister has repeatedly called for foreign troops and mercenaries to leave the country. The latest call from the country’s first female foreign minister, Najla al-Mangoush, came in a press briefing with her Turkish counterpart who visited Tripoli May 3. Mangoush said she wants Turkey to cooperate with Libya to end “the presence of all foreign forces and mercenaries” on Libyan soil. She concluded her comments by saying that such a step would “preserve” Libya’s sovereignty.

However, her guest had a different view of the subject. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not directly address the issue at hand; instead, he appeared to be questioning who should leave Libya in the first place. Cavusoglu said it was wrong to equate the Turkish military presence in Libya with that of “illegitimate groups," he said. He noted that his country sent troops to help defend Tripoli. The two ministers ended their private meeting discussing the matter, but they appeared to disagree publicly.

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