The European Union has escalated its pressure on Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar to stop his offensive on Tripoli, urging him to look for a political solution. Mr. Haftar’s decision to take Tripoli came as a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers was being held in northern France end of last week, calling for an immediate ceasefire, halting “all military activity and movements toward Tripoli”. Europeans are concerned that any further military action could further destabilize the North African country and destroy the peace process led by the United Nations.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the Tripoli operations as “untimely initiatives” that could further destabilize Libya, adding that “there is a fundamental principle in Libya. There will be no military victory. The solution can only be a political solution.” He further added that France and Italy, the two EU members with most influence in North Africa, were aligned on the strategy and the needs. “It is important that all of the international community takes the same line,” Mr. Le Drian added.
Analysts say that the Tripoli action is backed from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as France, which is seen as Libya’s closest ally in Europe. Yet, Abu Dhabi said it was deeply concerned about the fighting while Rome added that the international community was not ready to tolerate military action, with the country’s foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi stressing that “we think the military initiatives are not the best ones to grant peaceful developments in Libya and a constructive path forward for stabilizing the country.” The mounting pressure from the international community came as fighting started anew over the weekend south of Tripoli between pro-government forces and Mr. Haftar’s troops.