This month has seen several failed attempts by foreign powers to broker a ceasefire in Libya.First, Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord , refused to...
This month has seen several failed attempts by foreign powers to broker a ceasefire in Libya.First, Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), refused to travel to Rome when he learned that his adversary, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, would be present at a meeting convened by Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte.
A week later in Moscow, al-Sarraj signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement, but Haftar walked out without signing.
And then, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, Egypt and several other countries gathered in Berlin to jumpstart a peace process on Libya.
The final communique of the conference called on all parties to respect the nearly decade-old UN arms embargo on Libya – an embargo many of those powers have repeatedly violated - and reaffirmed the need for a political, rather than a military, solution to the conflict.
The renewed call to respect the arms embargo is sensible but it lacks a plan for sanctioning those countries that continue to violate it.
Meanwhile, the complex situation on the ground in Libya has worsened. Even while the Berlin meeting was in session, pro-Haftar protesters and militias blocked four key oil terminals.
Recently, Turkey announced the deployment of its troops to Libya to back the GNA. The country has already seen the presence of mercenaries from a number of countries including Chad, Sudan, Syria and Russia.
This has exacerbated an already complex situation on the ground, making it difficult for the UN and other peace-brokers to navigate.
In this context, the failure of European and Middle Eastern actors to stabilise the situation in Libya comes as no surprise, particularly since many of the so-called peace-brokers have actually fed the violence through, for example, repeated violations of the arms embargo.
In their interventions in the Libyan conflict, some foreign actors have been pursuing opposing visions for the future of the region. Others, in particular the Europeans, have intervened, hoping to secure economic gains in Libya and its assistance in keeping migrants away from European borders.
None have had the best interest of the Libyans in mind. This is quite clear from the absence of representatives of Libyan civil society and grassroots organisations in many of these “peace” initiatives sponsored by foreign powers.
While the fate of Libya continues to be negotiated in various European and Arab cities, the aspirations of Libyans continue to be swept aside. But it does not have to be this way.
Libyans can still take the peace process into their own hands. An existing framework, known as the National Conference Process (NCP), is a good starting point.
Excerpted from: ‘Why peace initiatives in Libya are failing’.