Friday, January 21

Libyan Foreign Minister Pressed to Resign After Calling on Turks to Leave | Libya

Libya’s Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs has been pressured to resign and subjected to personal abuse seven weeks after taking office, after she asked Turkish troops and mercenaries to leave her country.

Najla El-Mangoush, a lawyer and human rights activist, was appointed Foreign Minister by the country’s Acting Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah after she faced backlash for reversing promises that 30% of the ministerial positions would be for women.

Mangoush, a lawyer from Benghazi in the east, is trying to circumvent a number of outside actors in Libya.

On Saturday, a militia in Tripoli stormed a hotel previously used by the unity government, which was finally created in March, replacing rival administrations in the east and west. In footage broadcast over the weekend, the militia can be heard asking about Mangoush’s whereabouts and searching cars.

On the other hand, radical Islamist cleric Sadiq al-Gharyani, who lives in Turkey, criticized Mangoush on his Al-Tanasuh television channel, describing her as “bad, despicable and in the service of the Zionist project.” Observers said the vitriol directed at Mangoush endangered his life and showed the inability of some Libyan men to accommodate women in Libyan politics.

Some of Mangoush’s opponents allege that she is a supporter of Commander Khalifa Haftar and his eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), which still dominates nearly a year after their 14-month offensive to take over the capital collapsed. , Tripoli. In Tripoli, armed groups that pushed Haftar back from the capital with Turkish support still control the streets.

Mangoush’s opponents say his calls for Turkey to leave have not been matched by criticism of the presence of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group, which has ties to Haftar.

Supporters of the foreign minister say she has been impartial in her call for all troops to leave, and clips of the comments she made in 2019 now circulating on social media were edited to remove her criticism of Haftar.

US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland defended Mangoush, saying the criticism must stop.

“We fully support Foreign Minister Mangoush’s unequivocal call for the departure of foreign forces in the interests of Libya’s sovereignty and stability,” he said.

Turkey claims that its presence in Libya cannot be compared to that of the Russian mercenaries, as its troops are in Libya at the invitation of the previous Libyan government.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who visited Tripoli last week, criticized those who suggest that the Turkish presence in Libya is equivalent to that of illegitimate groups. But recent UN security council resolutions have called for all foreign mercenaries and troops to leave the country, as has a peace agreement signed by both parties last year.

The assault on the hotel in Tripoli prompted a request for the transfer of the government headquarters to the coastal town of Sirte.

Dbeibah’s unity government is tasked with overseeing the reunified state institutions until national elections are held on December 24. The elections are supposed to see a president-elect for the first time and a new parliament, but there is resistance among parliamentarians, who do not want their access to power interrupted, nor a powerful president.

Ambassadors to Libya from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy issued a statement last week calling on all parties, including the government, to adhere to the December 24 electoral calendar.

The statement was condemned by parliament as unwarranted interference in Libya’s internal affairs.

The five embassies highlighted the importance of making the necessary political and security arrangements for the elections, along with “technical and logistical preparations”, which they consider critical.

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