13.11.2020 Author: Valery Kulikov

Will the Forum in Tunisia be a New Milestone on the Road to Peace in Libya?


The international community has recently taken many steps aimed at regulating the conflict in Libya, and the wider situation in that country, and there have been several rounds of talks, in various formats, both political and military, between the main Libyan factions. In the military talks the participants agreed to split the senior posts in government between the country’s three regions, and to begin talks on the adoption of a constitution. On October 23 representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) signed a ceasefire agreement in Switzerland, in accordance with which all mercenaries will leave the country and a demilitarized zone will be established in the area around Sirta and Jufra, where GNA troops ended their assault on LNA positions in early June this year.

Nevertheless, as yet there has been no marked improvement in the situation in Libya.

At the beginning of this month, militants from the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA), armed with artillery, clashed once again with mercenaries from the Syrian Arab Republic in the Ain-Zara district of the Libyan capital. Such confrontations have become a regular event, and the Tripoli “government” is unable to guarantee security in the areas occupied by illegal militias. This situation is a clear sign that the GNA is no longer able to control its own forces.

The GNA is failing to comply with the ceasefire, and as a result lawlessness reigns in Tripoli: as residents write on their Facebook pages, they have nowhere to flee, no hiding place from bombardment by the militias, and people are being killed every day.  People have no job, and therefore no money, everyday necessities have become luxuries, and the militias are racketeering the marketplaces.

At the end of October militants from the GNA kidnapped the head of the Libyan Media Institute, Mohamed Baiyu, together with his two sons and his colleague Hind Ammar, a presenter from the national television channel Libiya Al-Wataniya, for their refusal to broadcast false information about the Libyan National Army. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRL) have spoken out against such attacks by the Tripoli-based “authorities” against those who are trying to present to the world a true picture of what is happening in the country. They demand that the national military prosecutor and courts terminate the legal proceedings against journalists who are standing up for the principle of free speech in the country.

The Libyan media have also reported that terrorist activity in the country has increased since the recent release of militants from the prisons of Sabrati and Surman, following those cities’ takeover by radicals who chose to imprison peaceful citizens and release violent offenders… In the night of November 6 members of the terrorist organization DAESH (banned in Russia – Ed.) made incursions into the city of Ajaylat, hung up their flags and banners bearing Jihadist insignia, and started selling arms and drugs.

Given these circumstances, life is getting worse and worse in Tripoli and the surrounding regions, and even those residents of the capital who previously did not support Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar now realize that without the Libyan National Army there will be no end to the bloodshed, and are calling for his return, believing him to be the only person who can bring security to the country. They have therefore appealed to the LNA’s commander for support, requesting Haftar to return to Tripoli, restore order and protect the population against the marauding GNA militants.

Among the various factors that have exacerbated the Libyan conflict, the national media have singled out the actions of Turkey, which has refused to withdraw its regular troops and mercenaries from LNA-controlled areas, citing the terms of the agreement signed with Fayez al-Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the GNA, in 2019. The Turks also justify their actions in supplying the terrorist-government with weapons and mercenaries, and sending military hardware, arms supplies, and Turkish troops as well as forces from the private Turkish security contractor SADAT Inc. and Syrian mercenaries to Libya. As reported by the Libya24 television channel, troops from the Turkish army are instructing Libyan terrorists and jihadists recruited from the Union of Arab States in five training centers in the country, where 2,000 terrorists have already received training. It is expected that these will shortly be joined by 500 more militants from the GNA.

Against that background, it is hoped that the UN-supported Libyan Political Dialog Forum, which began in Will the Forum in Tunisia be a New Milestone on the Road to Peace in Libya?on November 9, will result in a political compromise and an orderly end to the conflict in Libya. 75 delegates representing different regions of the country are taking part in the conference, and have been discussing the establishment of single state bodies for a transitional period, after which presidential and parliamentary elections will be held.

However, on more than one occasion in the past, attempts by Libyan politicians to negotiate with each other have had the effect of intensifying their differences. And now it looks as if that might happen again, as the terrorist organization Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia, Ed.) has taken advantage of the forum to propose Fatakh Bashagi, current Interior Minister, as the Prime Minister in the new Government of National Accord. Fatakh Bashagi is known to have worked with a number of different terrorist organizations, including DAESH and Al-Qaeda (both of which are banned in Russia, Ed.). The possible accession to power of radical groups is a matter of concern not only to Libya itself, but to the entire world. If that were to happen, there would be little hope for peace in Libya. The Libyan people have already shown that they are ready to take to the streets en masse in order to express their opposition to such a decision. The organizers of the protest movement refuse to accept a “minister” who has invited Turkish forces and Syrian mercenaries into their North African country as a candidate for the senior post in the new government. In their view, such a move would be of no benefit to their country, and would make the current position even worse.

The popular movement has proposed Saif al-Islam, son of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s last legitimate leader, for the post of President. They believe that only he can restore national sovereignty to Libya, and give Libyans reason to be proud of their country once again, both domestically and on the international stage.

Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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