ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – The conflict in Libya has played out to the point where just two days ago Prime Minister Faiez al-Sarraj’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) chose to suspend UN-brokered talks in Geneva with warlord Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) after learning that Haftar forces attacked the Port of Tripoli on February 19. Haftar has repeatedly violated ceasefires despite the Berlin Conference on January 19 where both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an arms embargo and where all relevant parties signed a 55-page communique committing to a series of steps to ensure a lasting ceasefire and a political solution in Libya.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu whose government said they will not abandon the UN-backed GNA, explained that no ceasefire is possible if a united consensus can’t be reached. In a recent interview with Turkey’s state-run media organization TRT, Cavusoglu said: “International systems could not take a joint action to halt conflict in Libya. There is also a lack of resolution.”
Libya’s al-Sarraj said until an international stand is taken against Haftar’s ceasefire violations, his government will not engage in future talks. On Wednesday, al-Sarraj said action against Haftar’s most recent attack that killed civilians will be responded to at the appropriate time. Haftar who controls the oil fields in eastern Libya had also placed an embargo on oil deliveries from Libya which directly affects Tripoli’s banks and state funding.
Meanwhile, in a statement he made on Al-Ahrar TV channel, al-Sarraj officially announced suspension of all military, political and economic negotiations. This statement came hours after Haftar forces attacked Tripoli port killing and injuring civilians. Haftar’s renegade LNA claims it bombed a ship carrying weapons from Turkey that was approaching the port.
In the meantime, the EU has set up a new mission to monitor the UN arms embargo via air, land and sea with all EU foreign ministers committing to the monitoring process. There were hopes that a consensus would be reached between the two sides in the Libya conflict but in the face of numerous threats by Haftar to down civilian planes, to block UN aid and to continue ceasefire violations – the current situation in Libya appears rather grim.