Turn in the civil war: When Merkel’s Libya deal fails, Erdogan becomes a great hero
More than a year ago, Libyan General Haftar ordered an offensive against the government. First he celebrated success. A peace initiative by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister Heiko Maas failed – also because of the corona pandemic. But things have changed since the Libyan government received Turkish help.
With a new political initiative and a ceasefire, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wants to end the months of fighting in the civil war-torn country of Libya. The ceasefire should begin at 6 a.m. next Monday, Al-Sisi said in Cairo on Saturday after talks with renegade Libyan General Chalifa Haftar and the president of the country’s eastern parliament, Aquila Saleh. According to Al-Sisi, the allied Haftar and Saleh agreed to the Egyptian initiative.
However, a spokesman for the internationally recognized government reacted negatively. “We don’t have the time to watch a war criminal’s heresies via satellite channels,” Mohammed Kanunu said of Haftar. “We did not start this war, but we are the ones who determine the time and place of its end.” At the same time, the government troops advanced on the coastal city of Sirte.
Drones and mercenaries
Haftar’s troops are fighting in the North African country against the supporters of the internationally recognized government of Fajis al-Sarradsch. Haftar had ordered an offensive on the capital Tripoli last year, but recently lost strategically important areas. Al-Sarradsch said on Thursday that the entire capital, Tripoli, was back under government control.
Haftar is supported in the conflict by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia. Observers attribute the government’s recent military successes to Turkey’s military aid to its troops. The Turkish government had recently moved modern drone technology and several thousand Syrian mercenaries to Libya.
Failed conference in the Chancellery
The world community had made several attempts to resolve the conflict without further bloodshed. It was only in January of this year that all parties to the conflict first met in Moscow and then for a major conference in the Federal Chancellery in Berlin to agree on a ceasefire, an arms embargo and the withdrawal of all foreign combat groups.
However, the fighting in Libya continued a few days later, and arms deliveries from abroad did not stop either. The diplomatic processes required for this – including due to the corona pandemic – only started slowly. In April, renegade General Haftar then announced a UN agreement to clarify the balance of power in the country and launched another attack on the capital, Tripoli.
Threats to Erdogan
Egyptian President Al-Sisi is now warning against looking for a military solution to the conflict. His initiative, known as the “Cairo Declaration”, also includes the withdrawal of “foreign militias”, with which the Egyptian president should target Turkish troops. He called on the UN to resume peace talks in Geneva. His initiative is in line with UN resolutions and the results of the Libya conference in Berlin.
The initiative also provides for the formation of a presidential council to be elected under the leadership of the UN and remain in power for 18 months. Saleh said a new constitution should be drawn up to prepare the way for elections. The current internationally recognized government is based on an agreement negotiated under the UN auspices in 2015, but Haftar rejects it.
Even Russia doesn’t think the idea is bad
Russian politicians were generally positive about the Cairo push. The prominent foreign politician Vladimir Shabanov emphasized that the idea was not a bad one. “It is always better to sit at the negotiating table than to fight.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday called for an immediate end to hostilities in the civil war country.
After the fall of long-term ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, Libya slid into chaos. Countless militias are fighting for power and influence there. All political and diplomatic initiatives to end the fighting permanently have so far been unsuccessful.
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flr / dpa