Arab ministers call for political solution in Libya

The Arab League said it will hold an urgent meeting on Tuesday upon Egypt’s request to discuss the escalating tensions in Libya. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 June 2020

Arab ministers call for political solution in Libya

  • The foreign ministers call for an end to foreign military interference and for an immediate cease-fire

CAIRO: Arab foreign ministers have agreed to stick to a political solution for the Libyan crisis in accordance with the outcome of the Berlin Conference and the Cairo Declaration.

In a video meeting held on Tuesday, the ministers underlined the importance of a cease-fire and also discussed the reservations of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Qatar on the declaration.

The meeting was chaired by Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs Yusuf bin Alawi upon Cairo’s invitation.

The foreign ministers reiterated that they upheld the sovereignty of the state of Libya, the wholeness of its territories and its national unity “every step of the way.” They also stressed their rejection of any local or foreign schemes to divide the country into “power regions,” thus causing a permanent rift in Libyan social coherence.

The ministers condemned all forms of foreign military interference in Libya “in accordance with the clear and firm resolutions of the Arab League Council in this regard, especially broader regional interference in the internal affairs of Arab states.” They rejected any military solution, which, they said, would not make any party victorious or achieve peace on Libyan soil.

They said that the solution should be achieved through a comprehensive political process addressing all the security, political, and economic paths under the original sponsorship of the United Nations, as affirmed by the Arab League resolutions.

The meeting called for a cease-fire, military de-escalation and an immediate truce, especially around the Libyan city of Sirte. The participants also called for the Libyan parties to re-engage in the negotiations of the Joint Military Committee (5+5) sponsored by the UN mission, to reach a permanent agreement.

The participants considered that any arrangements for a cease-fire will only succeed if there are clear commitments to expel foreign mercenaries from the country. They underscored the importance of disbanding armed militias operating outside of the state’s authority.

The meeting’s participants also called for the resumption of a serious political dialogue between the Libyans themselves under the sponsorship of the United Nations. They pointed to the constructive and detailed proposals in the Cairo Declaration which had broad Arab, regional, and international backing.

The Cairo Declaration, initiated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, mandates a Libyan-Libyan agreement for resolving the country’s conflict under resolutions by the UN and past efforts in Paris, Rome, Abu Dhabi, and most recently in Berlin.

The participants also discussed the “long path” of the Arab League as part of the Quartet grouping, alongside the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union. The Arab League is co-chairing the International Follow-Up Committee on Libya (IFCL), which is tasked with securing the commitments of the Berlin Conference, uniting international efforts to achieve peace in Libya.

At the meeting, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit spoke of the gravity of the current situation in Libya and warned that it was expected to escalate.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt was involved in all the international initiatives aiming to reach a political settlement in Libya. He added that Egypt had hosted the inter-Libyan political initiative launched by the Libyan parliament speaker and the Libyan commander-in-chief of the armed forces under the auspices of President El-Sisi on June 6.

The Egyptian foreign minister warned against the repercussions of continued foreign interference on Libyan territory, including the transport of foreign terrorists and mercenaries from Syria to Libya, which he said destabilizes Libya’s internal security and represents a huge threat to Arab national security.


Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

An image grab taken from a video released on July 3, 2020, by the Turkish Defence Ministry shows Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (C) greeting Libyan officials upon his arrival in Tripoli. (AFP)
Updated 06 July 2020

Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

  • Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups

BENGHAZI: Warplanes struck overnight at an air base that was recently recaptured by Libya’s internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said.
The strikes were carried out by “unknown aircraft,” the military source with the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said.
A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.
Al-Watiya’s recapture in May by the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli marked the start of a sudden collapse of the LNA’s 14-month assault to seize the capital and its retreat along the coast to the new frontlines.
Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups.
A Turkish source said last month that Turkey was in talks with the GNA to establish two bases in Libya, one of them at Watiya, the most important air base in western Libya.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in Tripoli for meetings with the GNA on Friday and Saturday and Akar swore to do all that was necessary to help it, a Turkish Defense Ministry statement said.
Last month, the US said Russia had sent at least 14 MiG29 and Su-24 warplanes to an LNA base via Syria, where their Russian airforce markings were removed.
Turkish involvement in Libya has also angered France and Greece and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of new sanctions on Ankara.
The GNA and LNA are now mobilizing forces at the new frontlines between the cities of Misrata and Sirte.