ISSN 2330-717X

Putin, Erdogan Urge Libyan Parties To Start Ceasefire – OpEd


On April 4, Khalifa Haftar ordered his Libyan National Army to advance to the capital, Tripoli, where the internationally recognised government is based. The LNA says its aim is to restore security and fight armed gangs and “ISIS”.

According to that LNA made advances elsewhere in Libya, a situation likely to have spurred Haftar on to seek military control of the whole country.

On the other side, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has vowed to defend Tripoli, accusing Haftar – who is popular in the city of Benghazi for his role in driving out Islamists – of launching a coup.

Since April, the forces of Hafter have pursued a withering offensive on the environs of the capital, Tripoli, locked in a battle of attrition with militias loyal to the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord.

More than a half-year of drone strikes, artillery bombardments, while the fighting has led to hundreds of deaths, displaced more than 140,000 civilians.

The conflict started when Turkish President Erdogan signed an agreement with Serraj’s government over maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara is seeking a greater share of the region’s underwater resources.

On the other hand, the foreign ministers of France, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, though, declared Erdogan’s pact with the GNA “null and void” because it adjudicates over territory where the latter three countries have competing claims and also hope to seek exploration rights.

The strategic mess in Libya smacks, when foreign powers jostled for influence in resource-rich lands consumed by political turmoil.

The Europeans, meanwhile, have tried to force reconciliation, to minimal effect. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, Libya cannot become a second Syria and so we need rapidly to enter a political process, an agreement on an effective cease-fire and an arms embargo.” But within Europe, there appear to be disagreements over the way forward, with France seen to be more supportive of Hafter.

In addition, Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and jointly announced a cease-fire. Europe’s engagement with Libya has lost ground to the efforts of both the Russians and the Turks.

Moreover, the Europeans and Americans let this conflict drag on from April 2019 until it reached a stalemate, that allowed the Russians to step in, with a few hundred mercenaries on the ground, and make a difference.

It’s hardly certain, that any of Libya’s factions will recognize the Russian-Turkish cease-fire. Hafter draws more direct support from Egypt and the UAE. While still in power, both the Emiratis and Qataris, there are in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. His scolding clearly did not have the necessary effect.

The two leaders in a conflict situation:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have called for a ceasefire to end the conflict in Libya. After talks in Istanbul, Erdogan and Putin said the ceasefire should come into force.  The call came amid a warning by German Foreign Minister Heiko the situation will became the same of a Syrian-style and we do not want refugees again.

Turkey sent troops to the North African state to bolster the embattled UN-backed government. On the other hand, Turkey accuses Russia of having about 2,500 mercenaries in Libya to support the UN-backed administration’s main rival, Haftar. Russia denies the allegation.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met Gen Haftar in the Italian city of Rome. also he should meet Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj . Government sources told the Reuters news agency that it appeared Mr al-Serraj called off the meeting after being incorrectly told that the Italians wanted him to meet Gen Haftar during the trip to solve the crisis.

Maas mentioned, “We want to avoid Libya becoming the scene of proxy wars,”. “Libya cannot become a second Syria so that we need rapidly to enter a political process, an agreement on an effective ceasefire and an arms embargo”.

The other side of the conflict:

Hundreds of refugees are under siege and have no support also hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers evacuated from Libyan detention centres to a transit camp in Rwanda are to be resettled this year in Norway

Rwanda’s foreign minister Vincent Biruta said,  Norway and Sweden had so far agreed to resettle people from the camp, Biruta added. Norway agreed to resettle 600 people, while Sweden had so far accepted seven.

 According to the latest figures Rwanda signed a deal with the UN and African Union in September aimed at resettling people who had been detained in Libya while trying to reach Europe. More than 4,000 people are believed to still be living in Libyan detention centers.

The UN in Libya has come under intense criticism for complying with EU migration policy, which entails funding the Libyan coastguard to intercept boats with refugees and migrants destined for Europe.

Elisabeth Haslund, Nordic spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, said that of the 4,000-plus people estimated to still be detained in Libyan centers, roughly 2,500 people are refugees and addition, UNHCR very much welcomes Norway’s decision to resettle refugees who have been evacuated to Rwanda and also notes the important and valuable financial contributions from Norway to help support the operation of the transit centre in Gashora.”

At the end many people detained in militia-run centres and subjected to grave human rights abuses, including sexual abuse, denial of food and water, and forced recruitment into the on-going Libyan conflict. Who will solve this political situation?

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Miral Sabry Al Ashry

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

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