Libya Ceasefire: Truce Holding Uneasily as EU Calls for End of ‘Foreign Interference’

Written by | Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Libya’s renegade ex-general Khalifa Haftar declared a “conditional” ceasefire on Sunday (12 January), amid mounting international pressure, thus ending a nine-month campaign to seize the capital, Tripoli. But just hours after the truce was agreed by the UN-backed Government of National Accord and their main rivals led by Haftar, the country’s dueling factions accused each other of violating it. The Tripoli-based government warned it would “respond violently and harshly” if Haftar’s forces breached the ceasefire agreement again.
General Haftar’s LNA, based in the east of Libya, had said it would maintain the truce – proposed and brokered by Turkey and Russia – in western parts of the country “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire” and, as its spokesman Ahmed Mismari warned, “any breach will be met with a harsh response.” Haftar launched the attack on Tripoli in April 2019, but his forces have so far been unable to seize control of the capital. The warlord is believed to enjoy backing from France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and allegedly also from Russian mercenaries. However, the Government of National Accord has allies of its own in the region, among the most prominent being Qatar, Italy and Turkey, with the latter recently making headlines by announcing it was deploying troops to Libya to bolster the UN-backed administration.
This development came after the EU launched a diplomatic campaign, including the push for a ceasefire, to try to prevent Libya from becoming another Syria. As Russia and Turkey have been accused of inflaming the conflict by providing military aid to their respective sides, Minister Giuseppe Conte called for an end to “foreign interference” in the North African country, once an Italian colony. The United Nations and European powers have also called for a peace summit to be held in Berlin early this year to bring together the leaders of Libya’s rival governments. The leaders from both sides were in Moscow on Monday (13 January) for talks as part of a joint Russian-Turkish mediation effort to bring an end to Libya’s long-running civil war.

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