Tag Archives: LNA

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.

Borrell hosts Libya meeting

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell and the foreign ministers of Italy, France, Germany and the UK will gather on January 7 in the afternoon in Brussels to discuss escalation of hositilites Libya, the spokesman confirmed. 

https://twitter.com/annavandensky/status/1214519745539653637?s=21

The EU reteintes the calls for cessation of violence, and confrontation between different groups in Libya.

“On Tuesday 7 January, the High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, will meet in Brussels with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Mr Heiko Maas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr Luigi Di Maio and the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Mr Dominic Raab, to discuss the situation in Libya. 

“The High Representative/Vice-President will address the press at approximately 15:30 (Brussels time) in the European External Action Service building” the EEAS communication service confirmed.

AMENDED: Josep Borrell statement after the meeting:

“Confronted with the worrying recent military escalation in Libya and also in view of the Foreign Affairs Council scheduled for Friday 10th January, we met in Brussels today to reaffirm our commitment to immediately halt the fighting around Tripoli and elsewhere and to discuss how the EU can further contribute to the UN mediation and to a swift return to political negotiations.

“The EU is of the firm conviction that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis and that a protracted conflict will only bring more misery to ordinary people, exacerbate divisions, increase the risk of partition, spread instability across the region and aggravate the threat of terrorism. An immediate cessation of hostilities is therefore crucial.

All the members of the international community need to strictly respect and enforce the UN arms embargo. Continuing outside interference is fuelling the crisis. The more the Libyan warrying parties rely on foreign military assistance, the more they give external actors undue influence on sovereign Libyan decisions, to the detriment of the country’s national interests and of regional stability.

In particular, we stressed the necessity to avoid unilateral actions such as the signing of agreements which further exacerbate the conflict or actions which create a pretext for external interference that are contrary to the interests of the Libyan people, as well as to European interests, as underlined by the European Council conclusions of 12 December 2019.

On the contrary, the Berlin process and the UN mediation efforts put the needs of all Libyans to the forefront and suggest sustainable solutions to core issues such as unifying institutions, distributing the country’s wealth equitably, and outlining a realistic roadmap towards a political settlement.

We urge all Libyan parties to sincerely embrace these UN-led efforts and to return to negotiations. The EU will continue to support the UN mediation and will help implementing any decisions that may be taken in Berlin.

Projections of Tripoli destiny

“Naturally, the European Union does not have a plan to evacuate Tripoli. As you can imagine. We are not part of the conflict and I have no reference that such a thing will happen. Tripoli is a city of two million inhabitants and any fight on the streets of the city would be something really problematic and serious,” said top diplomat Josep Borrell during the press-conference, concluding the Council of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The issue of possible evacuation of the Italian mission and the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) came to attention of the international press after a number of statements of different players, claiming Tripoli siege would end by the New Year, by entering of the Libyan National Army forces led by Marshall Khalifa Haftar. However the answer did not correlate to a question about the future of the Chairman Fayez Al Sarraj, if the EU is prepared to offer him an asylum.

“If you ask me if we have a plan to solve the Tripoli problem, of course not, because it is not our job, but we are in contact, all we can with our delegation there and that of the Member States to call the parties in conflict to the necessary restrain to avoid what could be a very serious situation such as the fighting in the center of a city of two million inhabitants.”

https://twitter.com/annavandensky/status/1204057771768987648?s=21

In the introduction of Borrell underlined the significance of the efforts of German diplomacy to find a negociated solution for establishing lasting peace in Libya.

On Libya more specifically, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas has informed the Council about Germany’s plan for the Berlin process, which aims at finding a sustainable solution to the situation in Libya. I hope it will bear fruits and I believe we should be able to do more on Libya. We certainly [need] to do more because we cannot claim to be a geopolitical power if we cannot solve problems in our immediate neighbourhood“.

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