There's a long road to peace in Libya

Delhi Jan 23, 2020, 07.18 PM(IST) Written By: Annu Kaushik

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Countries directly involved in the fighting seemed to be at loggerheads.

The recent peace conference in Berlin fared better than most of the previous summits on Libya. But it failed to achieve its main target of brokering a ceasefire between the two warring factions in the North African country.

What happened in Berlin?

The Libyan rivals and their international backers came face to face at the United Nations-backed meet. World leaders agreed to an arms embargo on Libya whose civil war has intensified with foreign interference.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a political solution but did not rule out a military intervention either. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the attendees have, for now, averted the war in Libya from escalating into a regional conflict.

However, countries directly involved in the fighting seemed to be at loggerheads.

Russia which backs commander Khalifa Haftar said that large-scale fighting in Libya has stopped while Turkey which supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said that peace won’t come until a truce is agreed upon.

Stakes rose ahead of the summit with the closure of the Eastern Libyan oil ports that are under the renegade General’s control. With this, the country’s crude output has been cut by more than half.

However, there was little discussion on the issue in Berlin and the oil fields remain shut till date.

Who all Attended the Meet?

Fayez al-Seraj who heads the internationally-recognised GNA based in capital Tripoli and Eastern commander Khalifa Haftar who leads the Libyan National Army attended the summit. While their allies had one of one, the two adversaries did not meet each other.

Leaders of Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt which back Haftar were present at the meet. France and the US which are said to be close to the renegade general were also in attendance.

On Seraj’s side, the discussions were spearheaded by Turkey which has sent its troops to help the GNA fend off the LNA’s campaign to seize Tripoli. Libya’s former coloniser Italy which backs the UN-recognised government was also present at the meet.

Leaders of the European Union, Arab League and the African Union too played a key role in deliberations.

What is the Libyan Civil War?

The current conflict intensified when Haftar ordered his LNA troops to march towards capital Tripoli last April. While al-Seraj’s government commands a fraction of Libyan territory, much of the country and also its oil fields are controlled by Haftar.

What are Europe interests in Libya?

The conflict-ridden country is among the major oil producers of the world. Instability in Libya will lead to a rise in global oil prices. But that’s not the only thing that concerns the European powers. 

There’s also the issue of refugees. Libya which lacks proper border checks has been the focal point for African and Mediterranean immigrants to enter Europe via sea.

Europe has for long been divided over the refugee crisis with Italy claiming that it has felt the maximum burnt of illegal immigration.

What is at stake for Libya’s warring parties?

Haftar cannot claim victory until he takes hold of capital Tripoli- the battle for which has drawn longer than he expected. 

For al-Seraj’s GNA, it is more about survival. The rebel general is becoming more and more powerful and militia commanders in Tripoli fear that they will meet the same fate that Muammar Gadaffi met. The former dictator was captured and killed by rebels in 2011.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)