15 – 21 July: Africom verifies landmines and IED imagery allegedly laid by Wagner forces

Jul 22, 2020 | International actors

On 15 July, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump held a phone call in which they agreed to strengthen their cooperation on Libya. The same day, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it had verified photographic evidence of landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) allegedly found in a residential area in Tripoli that had been laid by the Russian Wagner Group. On 16 July, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that ‘The Russian military is not taking part in any processes in Libya,’ adding, ‘We are unaware of any organized Russian nationals who could take part in them.’

On 16 July, US State Department Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker described the European Union’s (EU) mission to stop arms shipments to Libya as not being ‘serious’ and accused the EU of being ‘biased’ for only criticising Turkey. On 17 July, France rebuffed Schenker’s assertions, claiming that Washington should itself be doing more to stop the flow of weapons into Libya and should ‘step up their action’ to hinder recurrent violations of the arms embargo. On 20 July, US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone call where the two discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Libya, which ‘has been exacerbated by the presence of foreign forces and arms,’ according to a White House spokesman.

On 19 July, Sisi held a phone call with US President Donald Trump in which the two leaders reportedly agreed on maintaining a ceasefire and avoiding a military escalation in Libya. On 20 July, Egypt’s parliament unanimously authorised the deployment of Egyptian troops on combat missions outside the country, stating that the deployment would be made on a ‘western front’ and would be to ‘defend Egyptian national security…against criminal armed militias and foreign terrorist elements’.