Tag Archives: Khalifa Haftar

IS claim attacks in Libya

Islamic State fighters claim three attacks targeting Libyan National Army forces in the vicinity of Sabah, announcing it a part of “Battle of Attrition” military campaign. According to the Intelligence group SITE this claim is a first one since June 2019, adding that Sabha area is a past “hot spot” of Islamic State jihad operations.

Attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent and its superior numbers, however when attritional methods have worn down the enemy sufficiently to make other methods feasible, attritional actions are abandoned in favor of other strategies.

The inhabitants of Sabah have rejected the authority of the expired mandate Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and allied with Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.

Image: illustration

Libya crisis deepens

Skhirat agreement signed under UN auspices “remains the viable framework for a political solution in Libya until amendments or replacements are found” said European Commission spokesperson, reacting on Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar unilateral declaration to of the agreement being invalid. The EU spokesperson also reiterated the previous EU calls for an inclusive Libyan-led peace process to find a political solution with the participation of all parties involved in the conflict and the help of the international community.

Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar declared a landmark United Nations-brokered Skhirat (2015) agreement “a thing of the past,” and pledged his authorities would move toward creating a new government. The UN-brokered agreement linked by Libya’s warring factions in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat so has been the only the framework so far of a political settlement in Libya.

The political agreement destroyed the country,” Haftar said. “We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”

Haftar, commander of Libya’s National Army (LNA), controls most of eastern and southern Libya. The UN-supported administration in Tripoli rules just a strip of the country’s west.
While Haftar has not yet dissolved any state institutions, such as the eastern-based House of Representatives, often referred to as Tobruk Parliament, said his armed forces “accept the people’s mandate to run the country.”

In a speech last week, Haftar asked Libyans to hold demonstrations and give him a mandate to rule. Despite a curfew imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, crowds thronged the streets of Benghazi and chanted slogans against the rival Tripoli administration chairs by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Khalifa Haftard decision to declare himself unilaterally the ruler of Libya is unacceptable, Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Al-Sarraj said, commenting on the rival’s move.

Apparently Haftar’s decision has not been appreciated even by the Russian diplomacy usually sympathetic vis-à-vis the commander. At his April 28 press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia did not approve of Haftar’s statements. Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, also called the news of Haftar’s unilateral actions “very disturbing.”

Haftar is stuck in a deadlock, Leonid Isaev, an associate professor at the Higher School of Economics, told Vedomosti newspaper.

He has not been able to take Tripoli for a year now, and because of this there is no way to speak at international negotiations from a position of strength, as he would like,” the expert said. The alignment of forces does not change in any way from his statement, since it is just an attempt to justify oneself for these failures, Isaev explained. According to him, last month, when the support of external players almost dried up due to the coronavirus pandemic, Haftar and Sarraj were left alone, and Haftar still couldn’t significantly advance on the battlefield, the expert said. “Neither one of them has sufficient resources to defeat the other, and ‘the great powers’ and regional allies are clearly occupied now,” he concluded.

In a video message on April 27, Haftar unilaterally declared himself the ruler of Libya.

Pointing to street demonstrations in areas under his control, he claimed he “accepted the mandate of the Libyan people” to govern the country.

Haftar said the Skhirat agreement signed in 2015 by the warring sides in Libya under the auspices of the UN is “a thing of the past“.

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country, supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA), and Tobruk Parliament, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in the east, launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April which did not advance much, and stalled on the outskirts of the city.

However the move to abandon the UN-backed agreement has not come as a surprise. In December last year the Libyan diplomacy in Benghazi has already announced the Skhurat Agreement outdated, and void.

Al-Wefaq (GNA) government is unconstitutional, which did not gain confidence from the Libyan parliament, and rulings were issued against it by the Libyan courts that invalidated all decisions issued by them.
According to the Skhirat Agreement, which did not guarantee who else is also for the constitutional declaration, the first article / fourth paragraph states that the mandate of the reconciliation government is for one year only since it was given confidence by the Libyan parliament and renewed automatically for one year only, therefore the mandate of the reconciliation government has expired for a long time ago, this government can no longer conclude any treaties and agreements that bear any international obligations on Libya the Minister of foreign affairs of Libyan Interim government said in a video declaration.

Borrell calls Libyans to stop hostilities

“Escalation of violence in Tripoli, including Tuesday´s attacks in the port, is causing further human suffering and civilian casualties. This needs to stop as a matter of urgency. All parties need to fully respect the truce they agreed to, refrain from any further military action, and re-engage in a political dialogue for a solution to the crisis in Libyareads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, addressing deteriorating situation in Libya.

“We need to keep the momentum created by the Berlin process and the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2510 (2020). Talks in Geneva under UN leadership should resume as quickly as possible, so that the parties move towards swift de-escalation and commit to a sustainable ceasefire.

“The European Union has been and remains strongly committed to support the UN-led peace process in Libya and the efforts by the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé to implement the Berlin declaration, as the only way out of the Libyan crisis.”

Meanwhile the Greek delegation walked out of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels on Feburary 19 in protest at the stance of acting president Attila Mesterhazy.

The incident took place as the five-member Greek delegation, which is made up of lawmakers from the country’s main political parties, were raising the issue of the contentious Turkey-Libya maritime boundaries agreement and Turkey’s violations of international law and Greek sovereign rights.

EU new aero-naval mission to Libya

EU Foreign Ministers discussed the latest developments in Libya, following up on the Foreign Affairs Councils from 10 and 20 January. During the previous two meetings, the Council had expressed concern over the aggravating crisis in the area, agreeing on the need for EU engagement to prevent further escalation.

The EU top diplomat announced the end of Sophia naval mission, and start of a new one with a purpose of monitoring arms embargo in East Libya.

 

The European Union is embarking on an air and naval mission, with a land component, to block arms and the transport of arms to Libya, said the Borrell announced at press-conference in Brussels.

The mission, he said, will be deployed on the eastern part of the Libyan coast, where arms trafficking is concentrated. Half a dozen planes and boats are expected to participate.

The 27 member-states, worried about the worsening crisis in Libya, agreed last month on the need for European mobilization in order to avoid a further escalation of the situation.

But Austrian reluctance slowed any advance, Vienna fearing that the European vessels deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean would encourage African  migrants to risk their lives, trying to reach the European shores, crossing Mediterranean,  aggravating already dramatic situation.

Borrell did not comment on ongoing military cooperation between Tripoli administration and Al-Sarraj, and Turkey, intensifying its presence in the region.

Libya talks launched in Geneva

The U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said there was a “genuine will to start negotiating” between rival military factions as they planned to meet for the first time for talks in Geneva aimed at establishing a lasting ceasefire.(Image: archive)

The Geneva talks bring together five senior military officers from Libyan National Army led by Marshall Haftar and five from militia aligned with Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj.

“We started yesterday (3/02/2020) to discuss with them a long list of points on our agenda, starting on an attempt to transform the truce into a more solid one, less often violated by either side and also to transform that truce into a real agreement on a lasting ceasefire,” Salame said.

Both rivals relay on foreign support in their bid for power. While Marshall Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia, the experts and diplomats claim, the GNA is openly supported militarily by Ankara, declaring it would enter the combat if attempts to overtake Tripoli persist.

Hundreds of militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria are moving to Libya to participate in hostilities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The second aspect, associated with the risks and threats arising from the Idlib de-escalation zone, is the movement of hundreds of militants, including the Nusrovites and Heyat Tahrir al-Sham fighters, to Libya to participate in building up hostilities in this country,” – Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Libya LNA shuts down oil exports

The Libyan National Oil Corporation will lose $55 million daily due to shutting down oil shipment at ports, RIA Novosti reported, citing a statement by the company.

According to the corporation, daily losses in crude oil production will amount to 800 thousand barrels, which corresponds to USD55 million.

The ports of Al-Barik, Ras Lanuf, Al-Harik, Zaytuniya and Al-Sadr were blocked by order of the commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar.

The country in terms of oil reserves ranks 9th in the world with 48.4 billion barrels. Before the overthrow of the national leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels of oil per day, and it was one of the main oil exporters in southern Europe.

With the interruption of oil exports, the rivalry between two Libyan centres of power in Tripoli and Benghazi escalates to new height.

At present Libya has a world-recognized Government of National Accord, led by a Fayez al-Saraj, a descendant from a prominent Turkish family, who resides in Tripoli, and the Interim government, which is headed by Abdullah Abdurrahaman at-Thani, supported by Tobruk Parliament and Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar, who has been undertaking siege of Tripoli since April 2019, claiming the need to liberate if from terrorists.

Michel statement on Libya

“I would like to thank Chancellor Merkel, and the organisers of today’s conference, for your tireless work at this critical moment in the Libyan crisis” reads the statement of the EU Council president Charles Michel, issued after the Berlin Conferenece on Libya, which took place on Sunday, January 19.

It is encouraging to see the most influential regional and international partners come together in support of the UN-led efforts to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

As the EU has consistently stated, the only sustainable solution is through UN mediation efforts that put the needs of all Libyan people to the forefront.

I wish to reaffirm today the commitment of the European Union to the immediate cessation of hostilities in Libya in the interest of stability in its immediate neighborhood. We support the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya, and this in the interest of regional stability and prosperity – this is vital for Europe.

We have supported German-led mediation efforts launched last year in support of the UN peace process. I would like to pay special tribute to UN Special Representative Salame, who, under the authority of Secretary General Guterres, has made every effort to bring the parties to the negotiations table in order to find a political solution to the conflict.

We would like to encourage cooperation with the African Union and the League of Arab States.

In recent weeks, High Representative Borrell and I have worked to support the conclusion of a ceasefire and for the relaunch of the peace process.

We are committed to play an important role in the follow-up to the Berlin Conference. We represent Libya’s main economic partner and primary investor. Libyan youths look to Europe when they study abroad. Libya’s long term prosperity depends on these economic and cultural ties.

That is why the EU is gearing up to implement the outcome of the Berlin Conference. We are ready to mobilise our means where they are most needed.

In the short term, our contribution to the follow-up to this Conference, we are reflecting on how best to contribute to the monitoring of the ceasefire and the respect of the arms embargo. On the arms embargo, the EU was the only regional organisation to enforce it after 2016. We intend to continue that effort, working with our partners around this table, to cover all the corridors where the embargo is being violated.

In the longer term, as conditions allow, we hope to make progress in other areas of the proposed Conclusions:

political – to support a future national conference, the organisation of elections, and possible work on the constitution;
economic – actions focused on capacity building in national institutions, such as the National Oil Company, Central Bank and Libyan Investment Authority;
security sector reform (through our Common Security and Defence Policy instruments, including the existing civilian mission EUBAM);
and human rights – the EU wishes to bring its expertise.
The EU is ready to host a Senior Officials Meeting of the International Follow-up Committee tasked with implementing the Conference Conclusions. And we are ready to play an active role in the technical working groups created by this process.

Now it is time for all members of the international community to work together to consolidate the ceasefire and respect the UN arms embargo and also preserve the unity of Libya’s financial institutions on which the unity of the country itself depends.

In the past, we have shown unity on a number of these objectives. For example, thwarting illegal attempts to purchase oil outside the official circuit. In other areas, we should have done better, in particular, on the arms embargo, as highlighted by the UN in its reports.

Moving forward, we should also avoid unilateral actions, such as the signing of agreements, which exacerbate the conflict. I am aiming at the actions that are incompatible with international law and which create a pretext for external interference in the Libyan conflict. The European Union has taken an unambiguous position on this, with the conclusions of the European Council on 12 December 2019.

Today we are committed to the Berlin process and the UN mediation efforts that put the needs of the Libyan people first. Today is an important step, but much work remains to be done. We are ready to contribute.

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