Peace hopes as Libyan rivals declare cease-fire

Fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 August 2020

Peace hopes as Libyan rivals declare cease-fire

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed announcement
  • Previous efforts to secure lasting cease-fires have stalled

CAIRO: Libya’s warring rival administrations announced in separate statements on Friday that they would cease all hostilities and organize nationwide elections, a move widely welcomed by the UN and several countries.

The statements were signed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The two have been at war virtually since the formation of Sarraj’s government in December 2015.

The UN’s top official to Libya, Stephanie Williams, called for “all parties to rise to this historic occasion and shoulder their full responsibilities before the Libyan people.”

Sarraj called for the holding of “presidential and parliamentary elections next March,” and for the “end of all combat operations.”

The rival Libyan parliament, headed by speaker Aguila Saleh, called on all parties to abide by the cease-fire in light of the current economic conditions and the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

He said, “The cease-fire will remove the mercenaries, lead to the dismantling of the militias, and stop foreign interference.”

Welcoming the agreement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry stressed “the need to start an internal political dialogue that places the Libyan national interest above all considerations, and establishes a permanent solution that guarantees security and stability for the Libyan people, and prevents external interference that exposes Arab regional security to risks.”
The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Al-Hajraf also welcomed the ceasefire agreement and called on all sides to adhere to it.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said: “This is an important step on the road to achieving a political settlement and the aspirations of the Libyan people to restore stability and prosperity in Libya and preserve the capabilities of its people.”

Journalist Khaled Salah tweeted that the Al-Wefaq government’s shift is “a political and regional victory and a new vision for President El-Sisi’s will, decisiveness and diplomacy.”

Salah said the shift in the position of the GNA “exposes the positions of the new colonialists in Ankara and the complete bias against the Libyan people and their supreme national interests under the slogan of a united Libya.”

Italy said it will continue to play an “active role in facilitating a political solution to the Libyan crisis.”

The US Embassy in Libya said the cease-fire was an important step for everyone, and the Canadian Embassy urged all Libyan parties to resume the political process.

Many observers have suggested a possible link between Turkey’s transfer of Syrian mercenaries to Libya and the resurgence of Daesh in areas of the country.

 

 

According to statistics from the Syrian Observatory, Turkey has sent around 17,420 Syrian militants to Libya, including 350 children under the age of 18.

The UN mission said: “We strongly welcome the important agreement between the Presidential Council and Parliament leaders aiming for a cease-fire and activating the political process in Libya.”

Many in Egypt believe Al-Wefaq’s decision to have been driven by the Egyptian-led Cairo Initiative and a national mandate from the sheikhs and tribes of Libya to push toward a peaceful political solution to Libya’s long-running war. The Al-Wefaq government had previously refused to agree to a cease-fire unless it was granted control of Sirte and Jufra.

Saleh’s media advisor, Fathi Abdul Karim Al-Marimi, said the agreement requires all foreign forces to depart from Libya — including Turkish forces and mercenaries — and the dismantling of terrorist militias.

Al-Marimi added that inter-Libyan talks based on the outcomes of Berlin — which include holding presidential and parliamentary elections, dissolving armed militias and combating terrorism, and the equitable distribution of oil revenues — and of the Cairo Initiative would likely begin soon.

Journalist Khaled Salah tweeted that the Al-Wefaq government’s shift is, “A political and regional victory and a new vision for President El-Sisi’s will, decisiveness and diplomacy.”

Salah said the shift in the position of the GNA “exposes the positions of the new colonialists in Ankara and the complete bias against the Libyan people and their supreme national interests under the slogan of a united Libya.”

The Egyptian initiative has received both regional and international support, and was praised for tempering Turkey’s ambitions in the Middle East and maintaining security and stability in Libya. 

Political researcher and journalist Ihab Omar noted that the statements from the two sides indicate that there must have been recent diplomatic efforts leading to the agreement and stressed that the GNA had not acted unilaterally. He said the agreement was sponsored both regionally and internationally, and that this may explain the recent spate of Egyptian-Libyan meetings.

“The truce and the cease-fire are a great humanitarian act that preserve livelihoods from demolition and destruction,” member of the Libyan House of Representatives Muhammad Al-Abani said.

Muhammad Abu Ras Al-Sharif, a counter-terrorism specialist, described the cease-fire as “a good step for both sides of the conflict,” but warned, “The process of sharing or rotation of power is not a permanent reconciliation that leads to resolving the crisis that suffocated the citizens and made them live in the dark.”

He believes conciliatory steps are still needed to defuse the crisis. “Libyan politicians must start from the principle of neither victor nor vanquished to achieve stability and move away from regional quotas and dismantling the mafias of weapons,” he said. 

Italy reaffirmed its support for the efforts of the UN within the framework of the Berlin process with its main partners in the EU, and said it will continue to play an “active role in facilitating a political solution to the Libyan crisis.”

The American Embassy in Libya said the cease-fire was an important step for everyone, and the Canadian Embassy urged all Libyan parties to resume the political process.


Iraq PM in talks with UK's Boris Johnson on security, political reforms

Updated 22 October 2020

Iraq PM in talks with UK's Boris Johnson on security, political reforms

  • Johnson expressed his strong support for the Iraq government
  • Both leaders discussed issues of bilateral interest, and discussed recent political and security issues

LONDON: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson discussed security challenges in the Middle East on Thursday.
A-Khadimi met the UK leader at Downing Street as part of an a European tour. 
Johnson expressed his strong support for the Iraq government as they discussed economic reforms, the coronavirus pandemic and the continued effort to defeat Daesh.
The Twitter account of Al-Kadhimi's office said both leaders discussed issues of bilateral interest, and discussed recent political and security issues in Iraq and the region. 
They also agreed on more cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
“It was agreed to increase more cooperation in the field of combating terrorism, as well as in the political and economic sectors, in light of the economic challenges that Iraq faces,” his office said.
Prior to his UK trip, Al-Kadhimi met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
During these visits, Al-Kadhimi discussed Iraq’s main challenges such as the fight against terrorism and foreign interference in its affairs.
The Iraqi leader, who became prime minister in May, has a particularly affinity with the UK, having lived there for many years after fleeing Iraq in the 1980s.