EYE ON LIBYA: Permanent Ceasefire Signed, Turkey Uncertain On The Outcome While UN, US Laud The Agreement

By Janet Ekstract

ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – On Friday, in Geneva, a permanent ceasefire agreement was signed by the two Libyan delegations of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) that had initially been formed during this year’s Berlin Conference in Germany. The agreement comes after weeks of talks facilitated by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and focuses on Libya’s sovereignty and unity. Both sides agreed that state decisions will be made by them and not by foreign dictates. The agreement has made provisions for both sides to evacuate fighters from front lines and to order foreign mercenaries to exit Libya within three months of the signing date. There is also an agreement on a joint military force under a single unified command to deal with ceasefire violations. Head of the delegation of the Government of National Accord Ahmed Abu Shahma said the agreement’s goal is to put an end to deaths in Libya and should be the reason for maintaining security and stability in the North African nation.

The ceasefire was lauded by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who said the agreement is an incremental step toward peace and stability in Libya. In a press conference on Friday, Guterres called on all local and regional actors to maintain and respect the ceasefire as well as make sure it’s implemented as quickly as possible. The secretary-general reiterated that all parties must display strong determination to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict, to solve economic issues and address the humanitarian situation.l

Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan differed in his view on the ceasefire, claiming that it’s not credible and that only time will be the judge of its credibility. In a statement on Friday, Erdogan pointed out that the agreement is dubious since it wasn’t signed at the highest level and that its resilience will be tested. He emphasized that the side that agreed with the GNA to sign the agreement was the same side that led a coup in Libya. Erdogan expressed his sincere hope that the ceasefire will be abided by – adding he’s uncertain whether Russian mercenaries will actually be withdrawing within three months.  While Erdogan remains skeptical, the GNA’s Minister of the Interior Fathi Bashagha welcomed the agreement. Bashagha said in a statement that war does not build a nation and emphasized that peace is the only road to the nation’s unity, pride and dignity. He also congratulated the Libyan people for signing the agreement which he said he thinks will contribute to less bloodshed, achieving security, stability and a brighter future for all Libyans.

In the meantime, the U.S. congratulated the efforts of both sides, saying this now paves the way for additional progress in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) to meet at the end of next week. In a statement on its embassy website in Libya, the U.S. lauded both sides for their “successful outcome” in negotiations. UNSMIL Acting Chief Stephanie Williams was also congratulated on the website for what was termed her “indispensable role” in facilitating the talks. The statement read: “This agreement is a major step forward towards realizing the shared interests of all Libyans in de-escalation, stability and the departure of foreign fighters.” The statement also made a plea for all internal and external actors to support good-faith facilitation of this agreement. 

A week prior to the signing, Libya’s Head of the Presidential Council (PC), Fayes al-Sarraj along with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte emphasized that any political solution to the Libyan crisis must be based on the results of the Berlin Conference and through three key issues: security, economic and political tracks. The two had discussed a variety of things including joint cooperation, to include areas of security, immigration and human trafficking. 

Currently, Libya is in discussions about projects of cooperation with a delegation from the EU who met The Director of the Public Relations and Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Justice on Thursday. The EU delegation, known as EUBAM is planning to provide support and cooperation programs to various organizations in Libya. The meeting pinpointed future projects to be implemented and their timelines as well as method of implementation. A major glitch to getting things off the ground is the COVID-19 situation in Libya and how that will impact getting projects off the ground.

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