The United Nations envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame said that the organization felt encouraged by support from Libyan factions and international community for a national conference planned for early 2019. Mr. Salame endorsed “the louder sound of unity” among major regional players and “a much higher level of conviviality” between Libyan rivalling factions. He said that the latest conference on Libya organized by Italy was a success. Its aim was to discuss progress being made on a UN action plan for improving security and economy problems while fighting against human trafficking.
The summit brought together key players from the ranks of African, European and North African leaders including Tripoli-based UN-backed Prime Minister, Fayez Serraj, and rival Gen. Khalifa Hiftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army that is based in Libya’s east. However, the meeting was marked by a sudden pull-out of Turkey who was understood to leave with “deep disappointment”. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte commented that he was personally sorry for Turkey’s position but said that such reactions were to be expected given the sensitivities around the topics and the region itself.
None of the parties had high expectations before the meeting, though Mr. Hiftar’s camp made it clear that he was not taking part in the conference itself but rather in a meeting with fellow leaders. Libya has been in chaos since its 2011 uprising that toppled the long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The North African country is now governed by rival factions in the east and west, both of which have their own sets of militia. Libya has become a haven for Islamists and armed groups including crime groups that thrive on instability.