Libya’s Proxy War Heats Up: EU Calls on Conflict Parties to Withdraw Foreign Forces

Written by | Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy have joined EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell in calling for immediate ceasefire agreement and urging the conflict parties withdraw all foreign forces, mercenaries and military equipment from the war-torn country. Recent weeks have marked a turning point in a complex conflict between two uneasy coalitions, each of which supported by an array of foreign states, whose competing regional agendas mean that they are unwilling to accept defeat. This joint statement followed increased diplomatic efforts by Germany to push for a political solution to the Libya crisis. Earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern over the recent escalation of fighting in the North African country in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
In Libya, the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is fighting General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army in the east. The Turkish-backed GNA has recently won a series of rapid victories over Haftar’s forces, dashing Haftar’s bid to unite the country by force with help from Egypt, Russia and the UAE. According to Merkel, the UN-backed negotiations must remain the key aim of the peace proces. “In general, any initiative in line with the UN-led Berlin process is a positive development. But no alternative to the inclusive political solution of the Berlin process, also confirmed by the UN, is acceptable,” the EU’s chief spokesperson on foreign policy said earlier this week, commenting on the Cairo Declaration, a political initiative agreed on Saturday (6 June) by Egypt’s President with speaker of Tobruk-based parliament and warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The Cairo Declaration calls for a cease-fire in Libya and proposes a new assembly to form the House of Representatives and Presidential Council. However, neither the members of Libya’s internationally recognized government, nor their international allies were present at the conference in Cairo and only Russia indicated its support for the declaration. In a separate but related development, the EU has announced that it will continue supporting Libya in disposing of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and booby-traps, and Explosive Remnants of Wars (ERWs) found in South Tripoli. Brussels said it is deeply concerned by the IEDs and booby-traps found in the region, following the withdrawal of Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces. It noted that the IEDs have already caused a number of casualties among the local population and demining teams.

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