ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Jan Ellen – A new round of ceasefire talks were taking place in Geneva on Tuesday but Tripoli’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) suspended the talks after renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces attacked Tripoli’s port later that same day.
Indirect talks between Haftar’s self-styled Libya National Army (LNA) and representatives from the internationally recognized GNA had resumed in Geneva but hours later, Haftar forces attacked the Tripoli port with the GNA’s presidential council under Prime Minister Faiez al-Sarraj issuing a statement that Haftar’s attack would be responded to at the appropriate time.
Just a month ago at the Berlin Conference on January 19, hope for a ceasefire seemed much closer with all regional parties agreeing to a 55-page communique and agreeing to a UN arms embargo called for by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The issue has been foreign interference in the Libya conflict, repeated ceasefire violations by Haftar forces and a blatant lack of adherence to the UN arms embargo. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs in Libya, Stephanie Williams was blunt in expressing her thoughts on embargo violations: “The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here.” Williams cited multiple violations via land, sea and air and called for a monitoring force as did German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who said he is also very concerned about the arms embargo violations and called a special session of foreign ministers on the issue.
Another major glitch is the fact that certain countries are backing Haftar, providing him with advanced warfare technology and they include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia’s Wagner Group. Turkey stepped in only recently to pledge its support for the UN-backed GNA and said its main purpose is to provide training in an advisory capacity for Libyan soldiers affiliated with the GNA. But at the Munich Conference, a high-level Saudi diplomat accused Turkey of recruiting Syrians to fight in Libya.
On the topic of monitoring the embargo, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with EU foreign ministers on February 17 in Brussels, to make a decision on their role in monitoring the embargo. As the UN deputy special representative to Libya said: “It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability.” To that end, EU foreign ministers agreed to launch a new EU mission to include aerial, naval and satellite assets to monitor Libya’s UN arms embargo.