EU pushing for greater Libya influence with military mission: report

EU pushing for greater Libya influence with military mission: report
A leaked internal EU paper revealed the plans amid a 'competitive situation' in the country.
2 min read
21 July, 2021
The EU's push comes amid escalating concerns surrounding Libya's reported ill-treatment of migrants [Getty]

The European Union is planning a military mission to Libya amid fears "third countries" are gaining increased leverage in the North African state, the EUobserver has reported.

A leaked internal EU foreign office paper, released by the website, states: "An EU military common security and defence policy engagement should be considered in order not to leave the entire field of activity in the military domain to third states."

The report stated that the country maintains "a strong military presence" in Libya and "provide[s] training to selected armed forces".

Although the authors did not name the third-party state it appears they were referring to Turkey, which has given military and political backing to the former UN-backed Libyan government to the ire of some EU member states. 

Russia, the UAE, and Egypt have supported rebel militia leader Khalifa Haftar, with backing from France.

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The EU is seeking to use the EU naval mission, Irini, tasked with curbing people smuggling and gathering intelligence on the Libyan coast, to increase its influence in the country, according to the report.

The report said the Irini mission should be "linked to the acceptance of associated [EU] training by the Libyan authorities". 

It is not known if these requests were officially made or if Libyan authorities would accept such an offer.

Libya has been the staging post for attempts by refugees to reach Europe, and thousands of unsuccessful migrants are being held in detention camps in the North African state.

Around 16,000 migrants have been intercepted in or around the Mediterranean Sea by coastguards so far this year.

Amnesty International revealed that detainees in these holding centres have experienced "torture, sexual violence and forced labour" at the hands of Libyan forces.

At the United Nations Security Council, French Foreign Minister, Jean Yves Le Drian, stated: "It is time to implement a progressive, symmetrical, and sequenced timetable for the departure of foreign elements from both sides."

Libya has been in a state of chaos since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011 with the country divided between two rival authorities and myriad militias.

A series of UN-sponsored peace talks, beginning in January 2020, have been held in Berlin, aimed at ending finding a political solution to the conflict.

A key aim of the talks has been to ensure that Libya's general election, slated for 24 December, goes ahead, where it is hoped the country will find a new sense of unity.

The New Arab approached the EU for comment on the report but did not receive a response at the time of publication.