Tag Archives: Tripoli

Libya: Europe calls for ceasefire

“In the aftermath of the constructive commitments to halt fighting, resume dialogue and reach a ceasefire within the framework of the 5+5 joint military committee, taken in Cairo on 6 June, the High Representative of the EU and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy urge all Libyan and International parties to effectively and immediately stop all military operations and engage constructively in the 5+5 negotiations, based upon the draft agreement of 23 February” reads the text of the Joint statement by High Representative Josep Borrell and Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, Heiko Maas of Germany and Luigi Di Maio of Italy.

“These efforts must lead all parties to swiftly agree on a ceasefire agreement in the 5+5 framework, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces, mercenaries and military equipment supplied in violation of the UN arms embargo from all regions of Libya, and to engage constructively in all strands of the UN-led intra-Libyan dialogue in order to pave the way for a comprehensive political agreement in accordance with the parameters agreed upon in Berlin”.

Tripoli-Malta to fight human trafficing

Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela surprise visit to Tripoli evoked keen attention of all parties concerned with the ongoing migrant crisis, related to Libyan conflict, especially in view of the Memorandum of understanding signed on May 28 in the Libyan capital between the head of Maltese government and chair of Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj. The content of document has not been revealed yet, however the European Commission has already expressed the support of attempts of the archipelago state to deal with persisting migrant flows in a country of transit.

When it comes to migration and related challenges in general, we share the determination expressed by Malta to address migration in a comprehensive way, supporting actions in countries of origin and transit” the spokesperson of the European Commission said, responding to the Africa Diplomatic Magazine request of reaction.

During the visit the Maltese head of government reiterated the firm position on the need to address and defeat the human trafficking in Africa, underlining that Malta is facing unprecedented and disproportionate flows of irregular migratiion, on the scale it has no capacity to deal with alone. In spite of the repeated calls for solidarity to the European partners, there was hardly any response, especially recently, in the pandmeic context.

Previously on multiple occasions Valletta has been requesting the EU member-states for an adequate funding to secure Libyan borders, and also equal redistribution across Europe of constantly arriving irregular migrants. However in the actual context of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, causing the European governments to close borders, Malta demands became increasingly difficult to fulfil. In the meantime the summer departures from Libya and arrivals have continued, causing mounting pressure on Valletta, but also the other Mediterranean countries like Spain, and Italy, facing almost weekly disembarkments.

Abela, as the preceding heads of Maltese government, has underlined that is spite of its limited resources, Valletta has always respected its international obligations on a humanitarian grounds. In the obvious absence of relevant resources, the successive governments have been looking for the EU support to resolve the increasing problem of human trafficking in Africa. Malta has been asking for stronger Tripoli GNA controls on human trafficking networks.

The Libyan southern border, and costal line should be focus of monitoring operation to counter human trafficking, rather than focusing on the consequences of these criminal activities, to avoid risky Mediterranean Sea crossing. Recently various reports of NGOs indicated there are more than a half a million migrants on Libyan territory, in search of possibility to reach the European coasts. However not all of them are from sub-Saharan Africa, some come from Asian countries, as distant as Bangladesh.

Valletta and Tripoli will be setting up joint coordination units the to deal with the migration crisis, according to MaltaToday. Sources close to the talks indicated that the coordination units would ensure regular communication between Maltese government and GNA when addressing migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

https://twitter.com/maltatoday/status/1266747709559410690?s=21

Al-Sarraj and Abela discussed Operation IRINI, and agreed that this should consider both Malta and Libya’s reservations about mission.

Meetings were held with al-Sarraj, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala and Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga, in presence of the heads of the Libyan coast guard and navy. Abela led the delegation of Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and OPM head of secretariat Clyde Caruana.

Image above: courtesy of Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna

Borrell and Al-Serraj discuss IRINI

Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat, called the Chair of the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, Fayez al-Serraj, on 18 May to discuss the latest developments in the country.

The EU diplomat conveyed his concerns over the escalation of fighting in and around Tripoli and the increasing shelling on densely populated residential areas, that have resulted in casualties and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Borrell commended the Chair for his government’s openness to participate actively in the Berlin process and reiterated the importance for all the parties of the conflict to halt the fighting, agree on a lasting ceasefire and resume political negotiations. He underlined the EU’s continued firm commitment to a political solution to the Libyan crisis through the implementation of the Berlin Conference conclusions and reminded the Al-Serraj of the EU’s active engagement to advance towards that objective.

Borrell and al-Serraj also spoke about the EU’s new military CSDP Operation Irini, which aims to end the illegal flow of weapons and military equipment to Libya that have been fuelling the ongoing conflict.

The Operation IRINI is one of the EU’s contributions to the return of stability in Libya and an operational expression of its concrete commitment to the UN-led Berlin process on Libya.

The Operation is deploying its naval and aerial assets and using satellite imagery to ensure the broadest possible coverage, operating in the framework of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

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.

Libya: Borrell calls for humanitarian truce

On Libya, it is sad to say that the situation does not improve. Neither international appeals, nor the threat of the spread of coronavirus, have managed to stop the warring parties from fighting. The fighting continues and is even increasing” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in his opening remarks at the press conference after a video conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Brussels.

“We need to further increase our engagement with the most influential international actors and conflict parties, to agree on a humanitarian truce – this is needed to deal with the coronavirus, but not only because of that – and on a ceasefire – this is needed for a political process to start and the conflict to end.

“We also addressed concerns of some Member States over the risk of increased migration flows. There will be no sustainable solution to migration challenges until we succeed in stabilising Libya. Unhappily, it is not yet for tomorrow”.

EU deplores Tripoli hospital destruction

“The shelling of medical facilities in Libya such as Tripoli’s Al Khadra General Hospital on Tuesday, causing injuries and damages to the functionality of this medical facility, including its maternity and intensive care units, is unacceptable and must stop.

“This attack is even more deplorable at a moment when Libya is facing the difficult circumstances around the coronavirus crisis and should be united in containing the outbreak. All parties should respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect those most vulnerable as well as the healthcare workers and crucial medical infrastructure.

“As stressed in the 27 March Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union, we urge all relevant Libyan actors to immediately stop the fighting, commit to a total ceasefire and return to political negotiations to reach a political solution to the crisis in Libya.

“The European Union will continue to support the UN-led efforts to implement the Berlin conclusions and help the Libyans find ways to return to stability and peace.

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.

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.

Haftar makes friends in EU

Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar will hold talks in Athens on January 17, days ahead of a peace conference in Berlin which he and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj are expected to attend, France 24 TV channel reports.

“I hope that the parties will take this opportunity to put the future of Libya back in Libyan hands,” Maas said.

“When I visited in Libyen General Haftar made it clear: he wants to contribute to the success of the Libya conference in Berlin and is generally willing to participate. He has agreed to comply with the existing armistice” German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas wrote on his Twitter microblog page.

However Greece announced it will block any European Union peace agreement for Libya, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said unless a maritime deal between Turkey and Libya is cancelled.

“Greece at the level of a summit meeting will never accept any political solution on Libya that does not include as a precondition the annulment of this agreement,” Mitsotakis told Greek television on January 16.

“To put it simply, we will use our veto.”

Greece says the deal setting border and energy exploration areas in the Mediterranean between Libya and Turkey is “unacceptable and illegal” because Greek rights in the Mediterranean are ignored.

Mitsotakis is also disappointed Greece has been excluded from a peace summit on Libya to be held on January 19 in Berlin. He added it is wrong not to invite Greece and plans to fail a complain about it to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the leading the Libyan National Army (LNA), arrived in Athens on January 16 to hold talks with Greek officials ahead of a conference in Berlin on the Libyan crisis, Milli Gazete said.

Haftar has met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on January 17, the media reports said.

Germany has invited the United States, Russia, Turkey, France, Egypt, Britain, and others to the Libya summit. Both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend.

Libya: Berlin conference impasse

Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj have been invited to attend the Berlin conference on Libya set to take place on January 19, German Government spokesperson announced.
“Both have been invited,” she said. “I cannot say anything for sure regarding their participation.”
The conference is “the beginning of the negotiating process under the auspices of the UN,” the spokesperson continued. She noted that it is important to create conditions for Libya to be able to take part in the regulation process on its territory.

The international conference on Libya will take place on January 19 in Berlin. The German government’s press service informed on Tuesday that Russia, the US, China, the UK, Italy, France, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of the Congo, along with representatives of the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League are set to take part in the conference.
During a meeting with Chancellor Merkel on January 11, President Putin said that in order to make the conference meaningful, the participants must be genuinely interested in support of Libyan conflict resolution.

Describing the situation in Libya and perpectives of Berlin process, while addressing the European Parliament the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said: “We need to engage strongly, keep Libya united and find a peaceful solution to this conflict”

At present there is growing scepticim among experts and commentators about the potential of Berlin conference. The failre to sing an agreement between Haftar and al-Sarraj in Moscow is seen as a bad omen.

Image above: Berlin

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