By Jan Ellen
İSTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – In an interesting twist of circumstances, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) one of renegade warlord Khalifa Haftar’s staunch supporters in Libya is suddenly calling for a ceasefire and return to the political process.
Meanwhile, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya has made significant gains by destroying Haftar’s missile system, destroying a Russian missile system and taking back a major airbase – al-Watiya just two days ago.
Why the sudden call for a ceasefire by Haftar’s main supporter, the UAE?
What’s abundantly clear is the fact that Haftar is no longer on the road to victory. What’s also clear is that the Libyan conflict is a lot more complicated and will require numerous compromises by all regional parties if they choose to return to the negotiating table.
As Libya ‘s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj made clear months ago – Haftar cannot be trusted. The former Gaddafi general turned renegade warlord has used up all his trump cards and his supporters know that. They would be unwilling to admit defeat to the GNA which is precisely why the UAE is suddenly rallying for a halt to hostilities.
The issue lies in the fact that Haftar has never kept his word and that the so-called move for a ‘ceasefire’ is really a way as analysts have said, for Haftar to buy time so he can regroup and plan his next point of attack.
What’s particularly confounding is Haftar’s main backer, the UAE suddenly talking about what the Libyan people deserve. The UAE has blood on its hands because it supplied Haftar with advanced weaponry that killed over 5,000 civilians, injured over 1,000 and continued to kill innocent women and children. Haftar attacked hospitals, schools, an equestrian school, infrastructure, residential neighborhoods and put Libya ‘s numerous refugees in jeopardy.
The international community knew what Haftar was up to and tried to appease him. The powers that be know full well there’s no appeasing the dictatorial mind. In the meantime, the UAE is ‘making a play for peace’ that is egregious and insincere. Neither prime minister al-Sarraj nor the international body known as the United Nations should place any remote sense of trust in what the UAE says.
It’s time to remind Haftar’s backers: You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all the time. One would hope that the UN and all those who support Libya ‘s GNA realize the utter folly of returning to the negotiating table without any guarantees or sufficient monitoring to make any ceasefire or peace deal stick.
None of Haftar’s backers can be trusted to return to a negotiation because all of them violated the UN arms embargo despite all of them pledging not to. Libya ‘s prime minister who came to the negotiating table in perfectly good faith cannot suddenly be expected to trust his adversary who would like nothing better than to see Libya under his control.
The bottom line is that even if there was an agreement eventually Haftar would violate it. The one who breaks his promises then months later returns to ‘negotiate” is the one to be wary of.
As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres so aptly said, it’s the Libyan people who must be brought to the table and included in any decisions about their future. Let’s remember one thing and make it very clear: dictators dictate they do not negotiate.
The UAE’s ploy for a ‘ceasefire’ must not be taken seriously in light of Haftar’s recent military defeats. The UAE, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Jordan and Greece are responsible for supporting and propping up Haftar.
The question is are those countries willing to abide by the arms embargo set forth by the UN at the Berlin Conference in January 2020? So far, they have not kept their promises so why should al-Sarraj trust them?
It now falls to the UN, the EU and the US to get real and force all parties with a stake in Libya to the table. Force is the ONLY thing renegades, warlords and dictators understand. Haftar’s supporters need to know they have something to lose or they won’t show up to negotiate.
Libya ‘s citizens must ask the larger question: Who can we trust and for how long? Libya ‘s prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj came to the negotiating table with no guile – Haftar did not. Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?