ISSN 2330-717X

New Cooperation Between EU And US In Libya – OpEd

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The European Union removed an east Libyan powerbroker from its sanctions blacklist to encourage peace efforts and ensure the EU plays a central role in any negotiated settlement in Libya.

The de-listing of speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis. The parliament in eastern Libya no longer faces EU travel bans and asset freezes imposed four years ago, as European powers see a chance to reassert their role in Libya – which has been in turmoil since the first war in 2011 after the fall of Gaddafi and the second period after the ceasefire in August 2020 and to counter growing Turkish and Russian military involvement.

The good situation with the EU supports the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli. The EU now sees Saleh as a pivotal figure in a push to bring the two sides of the Libyan conflict together.

The United Nations mission has the same role in Libya; warring sides have agreed to resume military talks next week after meeting in Egypt hoping the step could pave the way towards a lasting ceasefire. The Egypt talks addressed confidence-building measures, security arrangements, and the role of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which is supposed to protect the energy infrastructure.

The recommendations include: prisoner swaps and releases, and expediting the reopening of air and land transport links, and would be presented to military delegations.

The UN and The European Union-led process have run in parallel with other tracks held by factions within both the GNA and LNA and between outside powers involved in the conflict.

The US is concerned about Libya and the troubled Sahel region to the south of the Sahara with Algeria. The US is alarmed by the threat posed by Islamist militant groups in North Africa.

On the same side, Algeria is weighing a more active military role outside its own borders. In addition, the Pentagon chief Esper voiced support for expanding military relations with Algeria.

On the other hand, the UN has accused outside countries, including those who have formally backed its ceasefire process, of breaking an arms embargo to supply the sides with weapons and fighters. This cooperation came as a result of relations between NATO allies Turkey and France having deteriorated over conflicting policies in Libya, and Turkey’s dispute with Greece over energy resources.

France has supported Greece in the east Mediterranean, joining military exercises with Italy, Greece, and Cyprus amid conflicting Greek-Turkish claims to continental shelves in areas of exploration for oil and natural gas.

For its part, Ankara accuses Paris of politically backing Libya’s Haftar against the Tripoli-based government, having previously given him military assistance to fight Islamist militants.

Turkey and France also almost came to blows in June 2020 after a French warship attempted to inspect a Turkish vessel as part of a UN arms embargo against Libya. From that point, Turkey had thwarted French hope for Haftar to capture the Libyan capital by lending military support for the Government of National Accord (GNA). France was the country provoking Greece the most in the eastern Mediterranean and urged Paris to cooperate with Turkey to achieve regional stability.

On the other hand, foreign countries are discussing some negotiations for a ceasefire and arranging the papers so that everyone can take a piece from the cake in Libya.

The Interior Minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) Fathi Bashagha with Qatari and Turkish Defense Ministers discussed that vigilance was very important as war can break out again in Libya at any moment. Qatar and Turkey will ramp up cooperation in all fields, especially in security, showcasing the mechanisms of his ministry’s work and its aims to boost the capabilities of its personnel.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his government is assisting Libya upon the invitation of the GNA, which was recognized by the UN, adding that Ankara will continue standing with our Libyan brothers and sisters in the future, with whom we share a common history and culture of 500 years.

In the end, many situations in Libya are matters of concern, including the economic and environmental damages and the risks arising from the oil shutdown, in terms of public safety, as the oil sites are still occupied by armed groups and foreign mercenaries. Efforts are aimed at adding financial transparency in parallel with the restoring of security arrangements.

The US and EU have to emphasize the need to bring the oil blockade crisis to an end as soon as possible and support the NOC’s efforts to resume production to underscoring its role in preserving the unity of Libya. Furthermore, Libya needs to evacuate oil facilities from all manifestations of military presence and make them demilitarized buffer zones, and not to use the oil sector as a political bargaining chip.

Miral Sabry Al Ashry

Miral Sabry Al Ashry

Miral Sabry Al Ashry is an Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department.

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